Men account for 80% of people calling on Mpower’s mental health helpline: Neerja Birla

The Founder of Aditya Birla Trust was speaking at ABP Network’s inaugural ‘Ideas of India’ summit

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 28, 2022 1:05 PM  | 3 min read
ABP summit

Individuals having mental health issues have become commonplace these days but even within this, the statistics are disproportionately skewed towards males. It is men, who account for 80% of people calling for help on Mpower’s mental health helpline, said Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson of Aditya Birla Trust.

She was speaking at ABP Network’s inaugural ‘Ideas of India’ summit to delve on the topic, ‘World of Wellbeing - Learning to Speak Up: Breaking the Silence’. The summit has brought together the brightest brains from diverse sectors to discuss India's 75-year journey, its present status, and the way ahead. ABP Network is the leading multi-language news channel reaching 535 million individuals in India.

Birla further said, “We found this statistics after we created a helpline for addressing mental health issues at Mpower. This further raises the question on the reasons for this tremendous difference. I am concerned about women not addressing their issues or not seeking help. We need to identify the reasons for this difference.”

"The awareness towards the importance of mental wellbeing is lacking and even when one is aware, one has very few choices when it requires professional help," she added, saying that the genesis for Mpower was to bridge the gap between awareness and making it more accessible to people.”

Speaking on postpartum depression, Birla said, “For individuals, awareness about mental health should start at an early stage.” She revealed that “not knowing about post-partum depression affected her a lot. Had I known about this, I would have been able to deal with it much better, and would have spoken about it openly early on.”

“One can be a high-achiever and doing extremely well in professional life, but one can also be struggling with mental health concerns. So, it's very important to address that. Having a mental health concern can make one feel that s/he has failed as an individual, but the fact is: Anybody can have anxiety."

When asked about the reforms in the mental health legislation and its impact, she said, "The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 now actually protects the rights of people suffering from mental illness. It also gives them the right to decide what modalities of treatment they want. The biggest achievement of this Act is: Decriminalising suicide. Earlier, families of individuals, who had committed suicide, would be grappling with legal hassles. It is not the case anymore and it is a huge step forward. And, of course, a person, who is thinking about committing suicide, is obviously someone who needs treatment.”

During the session, Neerja Birla’s daughter Advaitesha Birla also spoke and shed light on her initiative called Ujaas. Explaining the working model of this initiative, Advaitesha said, “Ujaas works in the space of menstrual health and hygiene. We, at Ujaas, work at the grassroots level with girls, mothers and families with the mission to make menstrual hygiene products accessible to women and girls.”

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