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Looking for free mental health counseling? Here's your answer!

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Increasing sedentary lifestyles, toxic work cultures, consumption of fast food, and lack of exercise are contributing to stress factors in everyone's life. According to the WHO, 7.5% of Indians reported suffering from mental health disorders even before the onset of the pandemic. The global black swan event further exacerbated the problem as people witnessed the sudden demise of their loved ones, experienced COVID-induced health issues and navigated life amidst work pressure, family turmoil and diffusing boundaries of work and personal life. A 2020 survey by the Indian Psychiatry Society reported a 20% increase in mental illness cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 1 in 5 Indians now suffer from mental disorders.

Indians are waking up to reality. According to a 2021 survey by the Live Laugh Foundation, 92% of the 3,497 respondents surveyed across 9 cities stated that they will seek professional help as opposed to only 54% in 2018.

With more and more Indians impacted every day, it is important to seek free mental healthcare support. However, compassion fatigue and a shortage of mental health professionals are the reasons why it can’t be made free. Several options for free online mental health counselling are available.

Compassion fatigue

Working as a psychologist is not a piece of cake.

As non-judgmental listeners, psychologists consistently listen to survivors' traumatic experiences and hardships. Although one may argue that therapists and psychologists listen from second-hand experiences, their built-in empathy can negatively impact their emotional health.

Listening deeply with an open mind and heart makes them vulnerable to feeling deep emotions, which causes compassion fatigue. In addition to psychologists’ baggage and struggle, they also carry the emotions of others that can impact their well-being.

Compassion fatigue is not exclusive to psychologists and therapists. Anyone who can put themselves in others' shoes, feel deeply and act as a consistent giver is susceptible to it.

For example:

  • Caregivers to the elderly or kids with special needs can be impacted by the psychological exhaustion of giving

  • Similarly, a person in a codependent relationship can experience compassion fatigue as they give more and try to meet the needs of their partner

  • The family expectation in traditional Indian families for women to cater to the needs of others with cooking, home management, and skewed parenting responsibilities, can cause women to feel compassion fatigue

  • Trying to meet society’s expectation to be self-sacrificing and empathetic can cause women to experience compassion fatigue

Psychologists themselves face compassion fatigue. To top it off, their profession demands them to listen and help the above-mentioned diverse cases of compassion fatigue and those with other mental health conditions.

True to the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, psychologists like anyone else need to take care of themselves financially and emotionally to help others in need of support. Hence, it wouldn’t be wise to take their empathy for granted by looking for free mental health services.

We wouldn’t think twice to pay doctors who treat physical health conditions, so why differentiate mental health service providers?

After all, our mental and physical health are closely connected!

Shortage of mental health professionals

A 2020 Economic Times article states that India has only 0.75 psychiatrists per 100,000 people, which is lower than the recommended level of at least 3 psychiatrists per 100,000 people. Also, in 2018, the Lok Sabha revealed that there are only 898 psychologists in India compared to the required number of 20,250.

Understandably, the shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists has made availing of mental healthcare services expensive. High price points are also a barrier that prevents people from seeking help.

However, Manoshala is working towards providing accessible and cost-effective mental health solutions.

We offer one-on-one counselling for issues such as self-esteem, anxiety, weak boundaries etc., free counseling for mental health and relationship counselling to heal from codependency, and recovery after narcissistic abuse in relationships and others. If you’re a caregiver to your loved ones, it is hard to practise self-care and prioritize oneself, which is why we offer caregiver support to help you with tips and techniques for self-love.

Book a 15-minute free pre-screening call to discuss what weighs your mind and heart.

Still, need free insurance? Here’s how.

Enacted in 2018, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) made it mandatory for insurance companies to provide health insurance coverage for mental illnesses. As per the IRDAI guidelines, insurers are required to treat mental health disorders equally to physical illness. Due to the intervention of the Apex court, the IRDAI instructed insurers to introduce mental health policies by October 2020.

Currently, the insured population can seek treatment for the below-mentioned mental disorders by paying a health insurance premium:

  • Acute depression

  • Anxiety disorder

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Dementia

  • Mood disorder

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Psychotic disorder

  • Schizophrenia

Final Thoughts

With more and more people affected by mental health issues, it is important to seek professional support. However, we must realize that like everyone else mental health providers and therapists lives in a capitalistic world with financial commitments and personal struggles. Hence, it is only reasonable to pay for therapies and counselling sessions just like we do for any other service. With a strong impetus from the government, special provisions to support mental health personnel, increased number of mental health providers, Indians can imagine free mental health counselling india in the future. It is good news that the pandemic-induced shift to digital tools has led to online free mental health counselling services, making them a relatively affordable option for the masses. However, there’s still a long way to go for free mental health services.


  1. Compassion Fatigue: Symptoms to look for from WebMD, Link

Written by Padmapriyadarshini


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