“The founding team has had first-hand experience of the barriers to mental healthcare access. I noticed the amount of shame and stigma that’s attached to this subject, with people who sought help with mental illness, being labelled weak, lazy or cowardly. Several people we knew could not afford counselling or therapy. We wanted to build a community for those who thought they were completely alone. Since India has a severe paucity of mental health professionals, we believe that community-led initiatives and technology could play a great role in levelling the mental health gap,” says Samiya. When the pandemic hit, many reached out on their social media pages seeking emotional support. To help people, they started two initiatives.
“First is the mental health professional listing platform — we created a curated list of mental health professionals which were crowd-sourced and later verified by members of our team. Second is the LonePack Buddy — this is a free, online, anonymous, peer-topeer support system for people who need a non-judgmental space to talk about issues affecting their mental wellbeing. They can access the service through a website or Android app which facilitates a conversation with volunteers,” she adds. Over the last five years, LonePack has reached out to many people and worked with organisations like Uber, Google and the Swedish Institute. Looking forward, Samiya hopes to collaborate and partner with organisations, corporates and individuals passionate about the cause of mental health to continue reaching more people and ensuring that mental health battles are not fought in silence any longer.