She was rejected by investors but her goal and dream to assist people in trouble offering self-help kits drove her to begin a startup – bootstrapped
Personal problems, relationship problems, parenting problems, health problems, professional problems… our bag of problems in the 21st century is a burgeoning one that has us bent over really bad. This growing concern now reflects in the quality of life we live. Ask any doctor in the psychiatry space or counselling area and they will tell you we are in the RED FLAG zone.
Collegeoflifelessons.com (COLL) comes to us like a beam of light in a dark alley. This recently launched platform aims to be that one place, people can turn to for self-help when in trouble or doubt. In interview with InsysdNet.com is Seema Raghunath the founder of COLL who is a well-established speaker, writer and HR professional in the Leadership Development space.
InsysdNet: India is now witnessing a shocking spike in stress and depression. How bad is it really?
Seema Raghunath: They say never answer with data right away. But in this case data is so shocking that we just need to get to it right away. The evidence is clear in a study that was conducted by the Government of India in 2015 which showed
- 1 in 5 Indians is suffering from some shape and form of mental disorder
- 50% of corporate India is suffering from chronic stress.
- 30% have complications arising from addictions and marital discord
- 20% suffering from depression!
InsysdNet: Where is this scary reality originating from?
Seema Raghunath: It comes from TIME. Our current age and time. Lifestyle and pattern of life is bound to change rhythmically. The change however in the last 100 years has taken its toll on us. Worst in the last 20 years. I don’t think we were equipped to deal with this phase. Ask anyone born in the 70’s and before if life today makes them wary sometime and their answer will be YES. The fragility of our existence is because of sudden modernization; change in the family shape and new value systems that support the modern age. Nothing we can do about it.
Example – you can’t ask people to stop eating processed food entirely because preservatives and other chemicals in it are carcinogenic, can cause hormonal imbalances or present other health risk. Who will listen to you really? Same way we can’t take away mobile phones from pre- teens and teenagers saying “the internet is a dangerous place and as parents we don’t think you should be exposed to sex this young. The curiosity will make you attempt sex too early, also not following safe sexual habits. What if you contract a disease or get pregnant ? So give me that phone “. That dialogue is preposterous. The kids today will out rightly reject the argument. So what we have left with us is only way – to use the shield. A shield that comes from educating ourselves, so we can teach our kids. That is the only way ahead.
InsysdNet: So why is the platform called Collegeoflifelessons.com ?
Seema Raghunath: We have a college for everything; for engineering, for being a doctor, for HR, finance, fashion – you name it. No college for Life, however. And most of our problems, confusion, worries and trauma comes from either personal or professional life. Another interesting find was that throughout life what plagues us most almost constantly – are Relationship problems from different relationships. In one lifetime relationship issues can crop up with parents, with spouse, partner, boss, peer, subordinate just about anybody. At the end of the day we are emotional beings because we are social animals. When our social placement is shaken marginally we suffer emotionally till it affects esteem, confidence, energy, performance, career and health. Of course this space had to be a place one can learn about life and living – thus collegeoflifelessons.com
InsysdNet: What does the COLL offer people?
Seema Raghunath: Firstly this is a global platform. The Indian realities drove me to start this initiative but the benefit is worldwide. Cultural differences on human experiences and emotions are not a world apart. When we suffer we all feel pain and angst the same way. Suffering is the universal unifies – I know it sounds very pathetic but when we are happy and well placed we chose to see our differences. When in trauma we appreciate who can help and then we don’t care who they are.
COLL offers simple solution packs under 50 subjects. If you have a problem or a concern right now – there is a good chance, we have it covered there. If not …more are to come in the next 3 months so we will have solutions for most common grappling issues.
- Modules for Parents with children on top concern areas / top MUST Know areas
- Modules for Parents with teens on what is critical from a parenting angle at this age
- Modules for teens and youth
- Modules for armed forced ( will go live in June – this is work in progress as of now )
InsysdNet: How does one access the solutions and how are they really?
Seema Raghunath: Anyone with a mobile that has internet or laptop can access the site wherever they are. We have not complicated the modules by using high-end technology and animation – it simply takes away the focus from the message. Also it may not have appeal for older audience, people from smaller towns and cities who are not used to excessive technology based communication. If we wish to solve the issue of depression and stress from life problems it has to be a widely applicable format. Simplicity is the COLL mantra. Book forms of the modules will release shortly and will be of help for people who want to refer regularly or gift it to someone who badly needs help.
InsysdNet: How affordable are the solution?
Seema Raghunath : Very, In fact it is because it was so affordable that I could not get investors to sign up. Whoever saw the cost of solutions thought this was charity for a cause and not business. But the vision and mission is to solve a burning area that needs a fire brigade. We can’t be so high priced, that it defeats the goal. The goal is to assist people in trouble offering self-help kits.
Each module is the solution kit for a concern area and is priced at INR 300 only, making it affordable for all. I went to 4 investors to get turned down by all. One asked me to bump up the price to 3000 to be viable and justify ROI. But that clashed with the very purpose. Eventually I funded it myself draining my bank to the last paisa. But this just had to be done. If I don’t get back what I invested – I am fine with it. Sometimes we need to do what makes us happy. Helping people makes me happiest.
Hope COLL can help at least a few needy people going forward. It will be “mission accomplished. “
InsysdNet: What are the plans to reach people who don’t like to pick up learning or solutions through an online medium?
Seema Raghunath: We have books coming too. Storymirror is the partner who will be publishing the physical books. 10 books are part of the first release and another 12 to follow in Phase 1. That should help people who prefer conventional way of retaining information.
InsysdNet: Last question, what was your inspiration for creating this online space for people ?
Seema Raghunath: Well for a very long time I was looking for a higher purpose and had nothing. A few teenage kids who were friends of my children died in road accidents and due to addiction. That bothered me a lot. Then couple of 40 year old friends died due to depression. One drank himself to death and the other committed suicide. As a practicing Life Coach that was hard for me to accept. People don’t turn to professionals they know will help them for free as friends because problems are private. That’s when it struck me people hide problems. They are secrets they suffer with. The Indian taboo is hard to break. Unless they can go someplace, find solutions in the privacy of their space –they won’t budge. Besides an hour with a professional is expensive. Could be 6000 INR for an hour. To have 4-6 sittings is not small money. Again we are a strange community; who is okay to spend that money on cosmetic chemical peels and liposuction etc but won’t spend that on getting counselling and professional help that will balance the mind. My inspiration to create COLL came from the aftermath of these unfortunate deaths. All could have been averted. These deaths that gave me sleepless nights gave me 6 months of sleepless nights working on putting COLL together but it is now done. We are happy to launch www.collegeoflifelessons.com on 14th April 2017. And I can finally go back to doing Power Session for leaders which is my real job.
InsysdNet has a consciousness towards society and building a stronger Nation. We recognize the merit and the advantage of having a space like COLL. Hope this article illustrates the seriousness of stress and depression in our communities and urges Parents, Teens, Adults and employees facing different issues causing Stress, to actually find solutions here. A healthy India is a positive future.