Variety

Big B lends his voice and support to mental health through Birla initiative

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on November 04, 2020 Published on November 04, 2020

Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan (file photo)   -  PTI

“SunoDekhoKaho” addresses myths that contribute to the stigma around mental health

Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan has lent his inimitable voice to spread awareness on tuberculosis, hepatitis and Pulse Polio’s “do boond” (two drops) campaigns. He now speaks for mental health.

World Hepatitis Day and Amitabh Bachchan

In a film that will be aired on social media on Thursday, Big B engages in a free-wheeling conversation with Neerja Birla on mental health. The candid conversation addresses myths that contribute to the stigma around mental health, said Birla, Founder and Chairperson - Mpower, a mental health initiative, backed by the Aditya Birla Education Trust. “And when someone like Mr Bachchan who is passionate about mental health lends his voice and support, it means a lot,” she told BusinessLine.

The campaign, “SunoDekhoKaho”, tells people to be sensitive to the mental health needs of people around them to be able to identify and understand the symptoms. The campaign, encouraging people to listen, be watchful and to speak up on mental health, will run for a month.

The film was shot in February but its release had been delayed because of the lockdown, said Birla. Months later, Bachchan had, in fact, blogged on the mental health struggle of being isolated, after he was quarantined on testing Covid-positive.

Mpower runs a round-the-clock, toll-free helpline (1800-120-820050) in partnership with the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. And in the six-odd months since launch, it has received over 60,000 calls, about 70 per cent of them from male callers. The calls are from people who are anxious, depressed and, in some cases, facing relationship problems, she said.

Stigma attached to mental illness must go

During the peak of the lockdown, Birla said, calls came in from diverse people, from the anxious elderly worried about imminent job-loss facing the breadwinner of the family, to migrant labour worried about when they could get back to work or just in need of some money.

In another three months, Mpower would launch a centre in Kolkata, she said. But ahead of that, two e-clinics for tele-consultations would be started in the smaller towns of Maharashtra, besides Bengaluru.

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Published on November 04, 2020
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