Esha Oberoi’s new mission to solve the world’s mental health crisis

Solving the world’s mental health crisis has driven dynamic health entrepreneur, Esha Oberoi back into the start-up world with her latest venture, Leora.

Leora is an online mental health companion that can provide 24/7 affordable therapy support to people, regardless of their location. It aims to move away from reactive mental healthcare into real-time therapy based on intervention and prevention using virtual therapist assistants.

No stranger to launching innovative health solutions, Oberoi started her first company, Afea Care Services, an in-home aged and disability care service in 2008 after working as a carer the previous year.

Today, Afea is expanding its services for people with mental health needs, improving on around the clock care and focusing on the industry-wide issue of a shrinking workforce. The company also recently ranked 3rd in the Australian Financial Review’s list of Best Place to Work in Australia & NZ. 

Recently Oberoi transitioned out of her role of CEO at Afea to focus full attention on the success of Leora, with the new start-up touted to bring mental health support into the future with AI technology.

In 2021, Oberoi was selected as the winner of Women’s Agenda‘s Emerging Leader in Health and with the Leadership Awards program gearing up for 2022, we reached out to Oberoi for her advice to other social entrepreneurs looking to create positive change.    

Nominations and entries for the 2022 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards close in August. Check out more here.

How would you describe your current role and job?

As Founder & CEO of Leora, I am driving the vision and strategy of the new business. I spend most of my time evaluating customer feedback which we complete through user research methodologies with intent to develop the architectural solution with the tech team. Specifically, our current area of focus is ensuring we embed clinically validated therapeutic techniques into the conversational flow of our mental health e-companion, Leora. 

What’s your career and life been like over the past year?

Since seeing the opportunity in using AI for good in mental health, my life has changed drastically. I am back in the start-up world again (after 15 years!) working with emerging technology so there are lots of unknowns. Last year, I’ve felt energised because of the new venture, however, equally, at times intensely exhausted mentally due to the risk that I am carrying, whether that is decisions around security infrastructure in our product, compliance and clinical governance in the content or simply even capital outlay due to costs associated with developing the chat engine. 

Can you tell us about a project you’ve been working on over the past year that you’re really excited about?

It is Leora that has consumed me the past year! I am super excited about the extent of impact this could have because it will be more accessible than current mental health solutions, have higher engagement from its playful engagement model and be better priced for our price sensitive consumer.

What do you believe urgently needs to change for women in your current area of work or focus?

Women are far more likely to work part-time than men. 45% of women compared to only 19% men so I think what would help is if we are able to make our executive leadership roles or any other complex role that wouldn’t otherwise be considered part-time, to be allowed for part-time opportunity. This would require some creative thinking by organisations and businesses but allowing for promotional roles to still be done by a part-time employee would allow women to continue growing in their career and not becoming stagnant and halting their professional aspirations. 

What advice do you have for women who are looking to push the status quo on trying to achieve better outcomes for others? 

There may be friction that you experience, this is not unusual when you are trying to push for better outcomes. Rise above it, rise above the tension, the noise, the friction, rise above the drama and stay completely focused on what you are trying to achieve. When I reflect on my own experiences around growth, this is by far the most important factor. 

Rise above it. The ‘it’ can be all sorts of blockages!

What, generally, is your best career tip for making big things happen?

Even if there is fear, overcome it by taking action… essentially channel the energy of fear into energy of positive actions!

Nominations and entries for the 2022 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards close in August. Check out more here.

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