Mental health concerns have emerged as a significant issue within the student community in recent years. A study conducted by the American College Health Association found that over half of students worldwide — approximately 57 per cent — reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety, while 34 per cent faced such severe depression that impacted their daily lives. Similarly, in India, a recent research by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) found that 12-13 per cent of students are affected by psychological, emotional and behavioural challenges.

As students deal with increased academic workload, social expectations and personal growth, a new ally has emerged in their corner — artificial intelligence. Apps that focus on mental health are now using AI to provide psychological guidance to students. One such app is PeakMind.

PeakMind was established in 2020 by four IITians — Neeraj Kumar, Sandeep Gautam, Manish Chowdhary and Parth Sharma — with the sole aim of helping students with their mental health troubles using AI. Unlike others, PeakMind distinguishes itself through the utilisation of chatbots and virtual assistants, providing an initial point of contact for students seeking help. These AI-driven interfaces engage students in conversations and offer initial coping strategies tailored to individual needs. If further assistance is required, the conversation transitions to a therapist. This platform has benefited 1.2 lakh students on range of issues — constant worry, negative thinking, suicidal tendencies, stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, distraction, digital addictions etc.

Rambha (name changed), a student using PeakMind, shared with the AI chatbot her struggles with severe mood swings. A counsellor promptly reached out to her and conducted a comprehensive wellness assessment. She was encouraged to engage with modules on stress, social, digital and emotional wellbeing on the app. Rambha also actively participated in app challenges aimed at creating positive habits like better sleep and eating patterns. Additionally, she utilised tools like the ‘venting space’ to alleviate anxiety and stabilise her mood. This led Rambha to be more relaxed and calmer.

The company has also developed various challenges focused on digital discipline, empowering students to build resilience against excessive digital device usage. They also have tools for tracking device use and reflecting on it, are effective in helping individuals manage their screen time.

“Our journey began with bootstrap funding, where the founders invested a significant portion of their own capital. As we progressed, angel investors and supportive network connections joined in, sharing our vision and providing crucial financial backing. Operating primarily in the B2B sector allowed us to manage costs effectively, maintaining a steady trajectory towards break-even while refining our product-market fit. Presently, we’re in active discussions for funding and have garnered promising interest from leading VC firms, signalling an exciting phase of growth and expansion ahead,” said Neeraj Kumar, Founder and CEO, PeakMind.

PeakMind has also collaborated with various educational organisations, specifically targetting candidates preparing for competitive exams such as NEET and JEE. It has collaborated with prominent coaching institutions such as ALLEN, Aakash Institute, SriChaitanya and many others. PeakMind and similar AI-powered platforms are changing how we tackle student mental health with new technology and forging new partnerships. As we understand the importance of mental well-being in education, these initiatives have the power to make a big difference in the lives of many students.