The COVID-19 outbreak has changed many trends in the Indian healthcare sector. While several medical innovations and researches are being undertaken to find a cure for the infectious disease, the pandemic has also increased awareness about mental wellbeing. COVID-19 induced lockdown has made people take issues such as depression, loneliness, stress, and anxiety more seriously.
Jaipur-based Felicity was founded in June 2020 by Pratika Khadelwal and her brother Vaibhav Khandelwal. The startup aims to help people get access to mental health therapy through online video counselling at an affordable cost.
Pratika, who completed her education from XLRI Jamshedpur, has over 12 years of HR and business experience, and has worked for various Indian and German companies including Bosch, HCL, and Edureka. Vaibhav, an IMT Ghaziabad grad, worked in Deloitte, and has experience in valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and buy and sell advisory. Prior to Felicity, Vaibhav also founded and runs Fuzzy Circuit, a smart home startup.
Pratika, co-founder and CEO, Felicity, says, “Felicity is aiming to become a mental health and wellness ecosystem and not just a marketplace or just a product. We want to be a one-stop solution for all mental health needs.”
How Felicity functions
According to the startup, users need to choose a plan based on the number of sessions they would like to have and fill up details. Following this, Felicity will share a list of recommended therapists with the user to select from.
One can then select a time slot and book an appointment with a doctor for a video therapy session which lasts for about 45 minutes. Apart from the video talk session, users will also be allowed to send voice messages or chats to the doctor.
The co-founder also explained that apart from the counselling and therapy, registered users can be part of the Felicity community and participate in forum discussions, take mental health assessment tests, and use Felicity’s journaling product to take care of their mental health.
“Establishing Felicity has been an eye opener for us. While we expected a huge crowd to come from metro cities and urban areas, Felicity currently gets 50 percent of its users from semi-urban cities,” says Pratika.
The co-founder and CEO also explained that one of the major reasons for this is lack of availability of well-qualified and experienced psychologists in India, especially in the semi-urban cities. She added that many might find practitioners with diploma and expertise in one particular field in mental health but this is not enough to deal with the patients. The online platform of Felicity breaks the geographical boundaries and allows people from anywhere across the country to consult therapists from across India.
Due to this reason, Felicity also tries to break the language barrier by helping users connect with doctors who can help them in their own languages.
Speaking about setting up headquarters in Jaipur, Pratika says, “I see immense potential in Jaipur. The city is now at a place where probably Bengaluru was 10 years ago. Apart from this, Jaipur has several good colleges, thus allowing us to tap into a good talent pool. During my career in HR, I had noticed the talent in Jaipur and had hired many people from the city.”
Pratika added that the COVID-19 situation has increased awareness among people about their mental wellbeing. “While mental health had moved a few inches from the fringes of public discourse in the last few years, it was still a distant candidate for mainstream healthcare. COVID-19 has, in a short span of time, lent mental health the legitimacy that it deserved in mainstream healthcare. It has shed light on the lack of access to credible practitioners and under-utilisation of counselling as a line of treatment,” she adds.
According to the co-founder, since its launch, Felicity has received a large number of registrations from users seeking help for loneliness, anxiety, stress, and depression.
Options to choose from
Users can choose from four plans available with Felicity. The ‘Explore’ session which includes one video therapy session and one week of chat access is priced at Rs 999. The ‘First Steps’ plan priced at Rs 2,699 includes three video sessions and two weeks of chat access.
Apart from these, users can opt for long-term plans such as the ‘Mind Your Mind’ plan which includes 12 video sessions and four weeks of chat access for Rs 9,599 and ‘Break Free’ plan which includes 36 video sessions and 12 weeks of chat access for Rs 25,199.
Pratika claims that currently, Felicity has over 200 registered users and around 30 members in its team including 25 psychologists. She says that all psychologists come with Masters in clinical/counselling psychology and have at least two years of clinical experience.
“The psychologists are onboarded on a freelancing model where they are paid by Felicity per session. The idea is to bring a bulk of users to the therapists and thereby reduce the cost of mental healthcare by making it accessible to everyone,” Pratika says.
The way forward
Speaking about future plans, Pratika says that Felicity aims at building a mental health ecosystem through meaningful partnerships. The startup is looking to enter into strategic partnerships with educational institutions, hospitals, colleges offering courses in psychology, corporates, and insurance companies to ensure wider reach.
Apart from this, the startup is also aiming at expanding its services to the US and UK markets. According to Pratika, there is a huge opportunity in the US and UK markets where mental healthcare is extremely expensive.
Currently, Felicity competes with other players such as Betterhelp, Talkspace, BetterLYF, and YourDost, among others.
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