Reading Time: 4 minutes
It has been a difficult year for all of us. And when we say that, we are putting it rather mildly.
Perhaps it’s time to admit, it has been debilitating. We have spent the greater part of the year locked up in our homes, unable to meet loved ones, and with the niggling stress of possible health concerns. Then it was the volley of bad news, first from around the world, then from closer home. As the pandemic gripped the world, we were all left unsettled, trying to come to terms with a new normal. Hell, there’s nothing ‘normal’ about the situation and calling it ‘new’ wasn’t making it any better.
Everyone Needs a Little Help
It’s as if our emotions were having the better of us every single day and anxiety had become the order of the day. If it wasn’t nightmares about being caught without a mask in a crowded market, it was waking up to the very real concern of the rising case numbers in our own neighbourhoods.
While the food on our plates, shelter and work may have made us more privileged than many others who were left battling on the streets, the toll of a time like this cannot be dismissed. We could all do with some help and help these days isn’t hard to come by.
We’ve often heard taking care of our mental health is as important as physical health but we know the reality of the situation in our society. We are still quite far from seeking help being normalised. The taboos around talking about mental health ensure even those who know better to adopt secrecy in their attempts to simply take care of themselves.
To top it all, visiting a therapist in the middle of a raging pandemic was almost impossible. Or so we thought.
Until a nagging Facebook ad led us to a friendly platform called, YourDOST. The name is intriguing to begin with and a great attempt at taking the stigma out of mental health concerns. That it turns out to be colourful with generous use of ‘yellow’ only helps matters. The sombre white, clinical looking platforms could well have us running for the hills.
Getting Started with YourDOST
Look at the tabs carefully and take a little time to browse through them. There is a list of experts, discussions, a dedicated blog, self tests and a section on programmes.
We suggest you begin with a self test. Based on your concerns, you will be asked a series of questions and an instant result will be displayed. There’s one called ‘your internet habit-o-meter’ that we believe everyone should take. We did but will refrain from sharing our results here. We do, however, intend on putting that phone down occasionally and taking the test again, after a month.
Once you’ve taken the test, you might want to spend some time reading through the YourDOST blog. We like the personal stories of overcoming mental health concerns. There are videos and graphic options too, if you want to skip the reading.
This section is divided neatly into tabs with drop down menus, based on the many facets in a person’s life. So, there’s academic, personal, professional and even a dedicated one for COVID-19 resources.
Here, experts take you through the subjects of awareness, self-care and productivity. YourDOST has help for students, working professionals and posts that remind us we are not alone in these bizarre times. We like the amount of information that is on offer much before you commit to taking a session from YourDOST.
Again, if you prefer consuming your content in video format, you’ll find some of that too. Give the section called ‘program’ a once over before you proceed to booking your own session. These are what one would call bundles that focus on specific goals. YourDOST has one for pre-wedding jitters, for facing an upcoming exam or to quit smoking. The wide variety of subjects covered continues to inspire our faith in the platform.
The Art of Consistency
While the information available on the website helps put your trust in an online platform for your mental health, we would like to also point out that YourDOST took this route much before the COVID-19 crisis hit us. So, their sessions are designed to be conducted online and not just an attempt at quick adaptability.
We also recommend that you spend some time looking through their roster of mental health experts and choose one that will help aid your journey. The platform provides you their time availability slots. If it sounds too daunting, YourDOST also has a system where a practitioner is auto-assigned to you. We chose the latter.
We decided to try out a single session before we sign up for a full programme and that might be the best thing to do. When you do, you will have to choose a category best-suited for your needs from a drop-down menu. This also helps them assign the right expert for your requirements. You can also choose between audio, video and chat sessions. Video sessions are conducted over Skype and we’d recommend you ensure you have no internet issues.
Once you do, you will receive a confirmation over email and SMS from YourDOST. We chose a video session and were also reminded about logging on to Skype a few minutes before the session. The process is simple and flexible until this point. You don’t feel like you have to turn your life upside down for a therapy session.
However, on the day of our session, we received a call that informed us that the slot we have chosen is unavailable. We were offered a slot earlier on the same day or the following day. We wish this information was shared at the outset and doesn’t spring up once you have your day’s schedule in place. We insisted on the same slot and after some back and forth were assigned a therapist at the designated time.
Here on, it is no different from therapy in person. The mental health expert connected with us on time, dropping a message before the call and reminding us again that our internet should be stable. All of this is done because Skype is the only application they use for video sessions.
Our therapist was competent, patient and took the effort not only to understand the concerns but also delve into our background. While this might be unique to the therapist and the nature of the problem, we were pleased with the fact that progress was made even in the first session. We were assigned an activity to help analyse ourselves and our problem better before returning for the consequent session.
Each session is 45 minutes long and the length seems appropriate unlike the 30-minute sessions we have experienced in the past. It enables you to talk without having to look at a ticking clock.
For someone who has been wary of seeking therapy online, YourDOST has managed to reassure us.