Mental health help at your fingertips

Khushi has been carefully designed by psychologists to address the specific needs of students.
Image used for representational purposes
Image used for representational purposes

HYDERABAD: In a world where mental health concerns among students have become a pressing issue, Khushi is just a message away. Designed to be a compassionate companion accessible through WhatsApp, Khushi is a chatbot that offers emotional support for students.

With its unique ability to assist in self-regulating thoughts, this free chatbot is created by a 23-year-old Hyderabadi boy, Tharun Sai Erukulla, with the aim of making mental health support accessible for students. 

Since its launch just a week ago, Khushi has become a valuable tool for students seeking emotional regulation. Affectionately referred to as a “pocket therapist,” this free chatbot offers support, suggestions, and a listening ear whenever it is needed. Interacting with Khushi feels like taking a leisurely walk and sharing our deepest thoughts along the way.

The inspiration for Khushi came about in 2020 when Tharun was studying BTech at NIT Agartala, and noticed his fellow students undergoing tremendous stress. Recognising the fear and stigma preventing students from seeking help, Tharun embarked on a mission to create a peer-to-peer mental health platform.

As the founder and CEO of Findhope, a social impact startup dedicated to making mental health support accessible through artificial intelligence (AI), Tharun sought assistance from the Osmania Technology Business Incubators (TBI) to bring Khushi to life.

Khushi has been carefully designed by psychologists to address the specific needs of students. The dedicated team behind Khushi includes Parth Sharma, a psychologist, Pragya Lodha, a psychology advisor, Dr Nishant, an Ideathon Project Consultant, and Amritesh Anand, the tech head responsible for building Khushi.

Over the past five days, Khushi has exchanged texts with over 1,000 to 1,500 students, providing them with an outlet to vent, relieve distress, and manage their emotions. Additionally, 10 to 15 individuals have taken advantage of therapy sessions facilitated by Khushi. The chatbot recognises that every student has unique concerns and experiences, offering customised support tailored to their needs. It assures students that their conversations will remain confidential, emphasising the importance of privacy.

Tharun assures students that personally identifiable information such as names and WhatsApp numbers are not stored by Khushi. Instead, the chatbot collects data on the frequency of specific emotional activities to enhance its functionality, striking a balance between privacy and data usage for continuous improvement.
Although recently launched, Khushi is still in the development phase.

Findhope is organising a series of ‘Ideathons’ to raise awareness about mental health and introduce Khushi to students, while also gathering feedback and suggestions. One such ‘Ideathon’ took place at Osmania University, where nearly 300 applicants participated, and 30 students shared presentations on potential features to enhance Khushi. 

Another ‘Ideathon’ is scheduled for June 30. Khushi represents a ray of hope in the realm of student mental health, bridging the gap between those in need and the support they require. Through this innovative chatbot, students can find solace, guidance, and understanding whenever they reach out, fostering a healthier and more supportive academic environment.

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The New Indian Express
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