Pakistan is a country where one in four persons suffers from mental health problems but the resources allocated to mental health services are abysmally low. According to an estimate, the country’s allocated mental health budget is only around 0.4 percent of the total health care expenditures.

The lack of hospitals for psychological consultations and psychiatry services, as well as a dearth of qualified professionals to provide them, is a huge systematic error. For a population of 216 million, of which 40 percent suffer from mental health issues, there is an urgent need to address this dilemma.

Established in 2018, ReliveNow is a virtual mental health clinic that identified this huge underlying gap in the market and offered a helping hand to those in need. It refers to itself as the ‘#1 Virtual Mental Health Clinic’, and is essentially a mission-driven startup aimed at bridging the gap in the market between mental health patients and mental health care providers, while dispensing quality mental health care to everyone.

What Does ReliveNow Offer?

With more than 25 psychologists and psychiatrists on board, ReliveNow extends virtual and affordable counseling, therapy, and psychiatric consultation services via its easy-to-use website. It has two main areas of services to choose from: Psychological Consultation and Psychiatry Consultation, and its services are relatively cheaper than the ones provided in specialized hospitals and mental health institutions.

However, its team says that people often misunderstand the differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Psychologists treat patients with talk therapy and use psychological knowledge and research to solve problems, whereas psychiatrists are Doctors of Medicine and are legally allowed to prescribe medications. Besides providing procedures, psychiatrists can also provide urgent care for sudden mental illnesses.

The mental health professionals at ReliveNow are licensed psychologists and psychiatrists with experience ranging from one to 22 years in the field. Their updated profiles are available on the website, highlighting their areas of expertise. This creates transparency and trust with clients, and gives interested individuals the opportunity to choose a practitioner that matches their needs.

The standard duration for one of ReliveNow’s sessions is an hour, and they are conducted online unless a client requests an in-person session.

In addition to being accessible, ReliveNow also claims to provide affordable mental health services, with counseling fees ranging between Rs. 850 and Rs. 6000. However, most of its counselors charge between Rs.1500 and Rs. 3000, which is reportedly more affordable than traditional therapy services.

How Can ReliveNow’s Services be Accessed?

ReliveNow’s mental health services can be viewed on its website, and can be accessed in the following manner:

  1. Go to the homepage and click on the ‘Get Started’ button to create an account.
  2. Once your account is ready, go to the directory of professionals and choose the one you want to book an appointment with.
  3. Select your professional and click on the ‘Book Now’ option to check their available slots. Accordingly, select the date and time that works best for you.
  4. Once your payment is made, the booking will be confirmed.

ReliveNow also offers the option of booking multiple sessions based on the availability of the professionals. If a client has booked an appointment but has to cancel it, they can avail of the option of asking for a refund.

Staying Anonymous

Pakistan is a country that still stigmatizes mental health issues and considers taking therapy sessions taboo, which is why many people are hesitant to step out of their homes and access mental healthcare. On account of this, ReliveNow’s defining factor is that it allows its users and clients to stay anonymous.

Virtual spaces like ReliveNow are targeting a big percentage of the population that is struggling from similar cultural restrictions by safeguarding clients’ identities and allowing them to access services from the comfort of their homes.

Many social activists have repeatedly called for more awareness, regulations, and greater budgetary allocation of funds for mental health services, a recognition of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives, and highlighted the growing global momentum to invest in mental health services. This has prompted some action for the improvement of these facilities, and it is hoped that more startups like ReliveNow emerge and grow to encourage more people to abandon cultural taboos and avail of such services for their wellbeing.