National, June 4, 2020: Launched in April 2020, ‘BMC-Mpower 1on1’, the 24×7 helpline by Mpower, a pioneer in Indian mental healthcare in an exclusive partnership with the Government of Maharashtra and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has received around 45,000 calls in just 2 months. This could be just tip of the iceberg as India stares at mental health crisis post Covid.
The maximum calls on BMC-Mpower 1on1 are in Marathi at 65%, followed by 27% in Hindi and 8% in English. Even though the helpline was launched for Maharashtra, it has received calls across India. The bulk of calls at 60% are from rest of Maharashtra & Goa followed by 37% from Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The top 3 locations for calls outside Maharashtra are Delhi at 2%, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat at 1% each. From the rest of India, the helpline is also getting calls from Rajasthan, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
The helpline has a higher number of male callers (69%) compared to female callers (31%). Of the three shifts among Morning (7 am – 3 pm, 45%), Afternoon (3 pm – 11 pm, 50%) and Night (11 pm – 7 am, 5%), the night shift has been the quietest one, which also means if you call at night you are likely to connect easily to one of the mental health counsellors and probably end up receiving bigger window of a sound advice. While the overall range of callers has been 18 – 85 years, the highest number of calls have a young profile in the 26 – 40 years range standing at 55%.
It is surprising, yet alarming to see that almost 20% called the helpline but disconnected the call before they could speak to one of the mental health counsellors, reinforcing the stigma around mental health in the country and the pressing need to take the leap of faith to open up about one’s concerns. While 52% calls were around anxiety issues, 22% were for isolation and adjustment issues, 11% for depression, 5% for sleep related difficulties and 4% were for exacerbation of previous mental health concerns.
With many cities in India, gradually relaxing their lockdown norms, BMC-Mpower 1on1 has witnessed anxiety levels about the ‘new normal’ life. Majority of the concerns were related to safety, anxiousness about stepping out of their homes, returning to work, commute, work-life balance, and their family and friends. In order to reassure citizens that the helpline is available 24×7 to discuss any of these mental health concerns, Mpower has launched a campaign – #MpowerYourTomorrow. The campaign aims to spread the message that it is ok to be anxious, but it is not ok to shy away from reaching out and seeking help to addressing one’s concerns.
Mrs. Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson, Mpower, said, “BMC-Mpower has been able to address many mental health concerns during the government mandated lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, now that the lockdown is likely to be lifted in many parts of India, it is natural to feel anxious about what lies ahead. In the past two weeks, we have witnessed callers expressing concerns related to anxiety and uncertainty about what could be the new normal. With #MpowerYourTomorrow, we aim to provide citizens access to quality mental healthcare expertise to support them. We are delighted that around 45,000 people have reached out to us to open up about their feelings. We urge more and more people to access and avail this service, especially in the coming days.”
The BMC-Mpower 1on1 helpline has also been receiving calls from people across the country asking for help with food, migration and enquiries for Covid testing. The efficient team of mental health counsellors has been successfully directing them to various BMC or State authorised helplines to assist with the same.
Mpower has been at the forefront of tackling mental health issues across the country. Since March 2020, Mpower seen a rise in new cases of mental health concerns like anxiety, stress, depression, paranoia during the Covid-19 pandemic. To address these concerns, Mpower has been providing counselling and therapies virtually through telephonic conversations, online chats, video calling to be able to help them through this phase. Additionally, Mpower has also been sharing health advisories and tips to parents, young professionals and families to better handle everyday situations.