Manodayam, an artificial intelligence driven digital platform for mental and emotional health diagnosis and solutions, could be a game changer for controlling rapidly spreading problem. Sanjay Bhardwaj, founder of Manodayam shares his hope as well as concerns.
DQ: What motivated you to come out with a tech solution for mental health issues ?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: Personally, there had been mental health issues that I grappled with. I did not pay any attention to them, or even consider it a mental health problem. Quality of life suffered, affected relationships with friends, family and the situation got compounded. I thought that situation would improve automatically but it does not happen like this. Mental health is a health issue and it has to be dealt with before it gets worse. According to statistics, ten percent of the world population and fourteen percent of the Indian population suffers from mental health problems. There are many more like me, who don’t even know they have mental health problems. This is now taking a pandemic proportion, it brings trillion-dollar worth of losses in the economy and triggers other comorbid conditions.
It needs immediate addressal. If we don’t address it now, our new generation will suffer even more.
DQ: Can you give us a brief overview of the technology being used for Manodayam?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: Manodayam is a very unique combination of bringing modern medicine theory blended with alternative medicines like yoga, meditation, music, arts etc. The blended therapies are powered by Artificial Intelligence Algorithms which assess mental health through voice inputs. AI also helps in finding options for best possible blended therapies for a patient’s mental health conditions. System is scalable to assess 8-10 mental health conditions through AI Engine and continuously introducing new therapies and remedies.
DQ: What are the medical or scientific credentials regarding the solutions you offer? Have they been approved by competent and authorized medical bodies?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: We are working in the world’s best ecosystem, which guides us to adopt best global practices and global compliances. We are also working with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) through STPI. Our close association with IIT Kanpur gives much required technology depth in Artificial Intelligence and other engineering functions. We are also working with Stanford University to help us in building global scalability and bring in global best practices. The system is being developed to comply with Global Data Protection laws; and conform with compliances such as HIPAA. Soon, we will go to ICMR and FDA approvals to get our therapies accepted as clinical procedures.
DQ: Have you got any customers so far? Can you share details? And how is the pipeline looking?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: Yes, we are expanding well and currently undergoing proof of concepts in leading government hospitals, various corporations and leading universities. We have also tied up with medical service providers in eldercare like Mental Health Foundation India (MHFI). We have opened a subsidiary in Scotland, UK ,with the name Mind Analytix to work with NHS and private hospitals in the UK and EU.
DQ: Can you give an idea of the state of mental health for India at large ?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: I must say the state of mental health care in India is very complex. First and foremost, mental problems still carry a stigma, a taboo, and we fight with ourselves and refrain from getting external medical support. Ratio of mental health patients and caregivers is abysmally low. We have a 1:6 ratio of available mental health care givers for 100,000 mental health patients. Whereas per capita spend on mental health patients is Euros 40+ in EU nations; and the global average is around USD 7.4, we in India spend 0.04 per patient. Outcome of this is that we have far more cases than the world average. Indian mental health state problem is compounded with social ignorance, lack of government funding and infrastructural constraints. We are sitting on a ticking time bomb.
DQ: Are there specific industries where mental health issues need special attention and you are also targeting them?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: Mental health is a universal problem that cuts across every society, industry, and income strata. As Manodayam, we are focussing on four relevant sectors, schools and universities, the elderly, the corporates and the armed forces.
DQ: What is the pricing model that you follow for this service ?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: As Manodayam, we believe that mental health is not a privilege but a human right. This is our philosophy. We have introduced the concept of mental health for all seekers at Rs 1 per day. In case a patient requires further assessment, services and support beyond the basic therapies, he or she will have to pay for the same, depending upon the conditions and requirements.
DQ: Are you also looking for partnerships for enhancing “go to market” and reach?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: As mentioned earlier, we are expanding our network of partners and ecosystem not only in India, but also in the UK and US. We will soon look at the Middle East market. The way to grow is to be partners with government and private health networks.
DQ: Are there any challenges that you are facing and would like to highlight?
Sanjay Bhardwaj: Challenges are plenty, I have mentioned that it is still a complex problem in India. Statistics suggest we are sitting on a time bomb but we don’t even know about it. According to me the biggest impediment are the three B’s – Behaviour (social stigma and taboo). Budgets (government spending on mental healthcare); and Balance (supply and demand). On the other hand it is a very vast market and requires continuous innovation and research. Technology based solutions cut deep and offer solutions across a wide range that can be made available to everybody. Protocols need to be revamped and improvised. Hence, we see lots of opportunities.