The subject of mental health in Pakistan is still a taboo with little to no awareness around it. Even though it is estimated that more than 10% of the country’s population suffers from some for of mental health issue or disorder, there is little help available to those seeking it. While most people spend their entire lives without getting at professional help, those who do understand the problem and seek help either don’t have access to a mental health provider or cannot afford it.
One such individual is Amna Asif, founder of ReliveNow. Amna herself suffers from Anxiety and has been fighting her battle alone for years. It took her a long to understand what was going on with her and when she was able finally identify the problem, she realized that even a bigger problem was waiting for her, i.e. finding a good therapist and managing to visit them twice a week. It was then that she realised that the problem is not merely about increasing awareness of mental health, but the entire process of seeking help with mental health too is quite difficult and even impractical for many.
As a result, Amna founded ReliveNow, a telemental health service that allows individuals to connect with qualified mental health professionals to help them during their difficult time. “I suffer from anxiety and it seems like a difficult task to find an appropriate psychologist to help me through this process and what takes me back the most is the travelling time and cost involved to see a therapist every week. Not being able to find a solution like that in Pakistan, I decided to create one myself. While I did have a strong support system to help me through it, I still believed that a meeting with a professional would be more beneficial for me” says Amna.
ReliveNow is not only providing professional mental health service but it allows people to make use of this service from the comfort of their homes, eliminating the cost of travelling every other day. With more than a third of the population suffering from depression, and many others facing other mental health problems without even realising that they have such a problem, it has now become crucial to not just educate people about mental health but also provide them with support that is both accessible and affordable.
“Relivenow is a lot more than just a counselling service, it’s my contribution towards the society to increase mental health awareness and eliminate the stigma associated with it” says Amna. Even though the country has made a lot of progress technologically, when is comes to taking care of our mental health we are still far behind. People suffering from a mental health issue don’t only fight their own internal battle, but also have to face the stigma that is so deep rooted in our society that anyone seeking help for mental health is instantly labeled as “pagal” (crazy). It is this very stigma that Amna wishes to fight by spreading awareness and acceptance of these issues.
Amna has come a long way since she first realised she might have a mental health problem. She has not only faced her own demons, but has successfully built a platform that will help thousands of other people face theirs. “This project is very close to my heart because I know exactly what it feels like to be caged by your own thoughts and have no one to set you free” says Amna and she is doing everything possible to make sure that no one around her ever feels the same way. During her short journey of 5 months, she has created a working website with professional psychologists who are providing online counselling services to many individuals. Amna aims to make ReliveNow a platform that is accessible for anyone seeking help with mental health issues and she is not far away from her goal.