With the aim of spreading awareness about mental health and destigmatizing conversations about mental health, more than 300 employees of Mpower, an initiative of Aditya Birla Education Trust, a social enterprise for mental health care, and the Aditya Birla Group kicked off on January 15 .e, 2023 at the Tata Marathon. The 300-person team included counselors, psychiatrists, mental health experts and staff from Mpower and all divisions of Aditya Birla Education Trust, along with staff and top leaders from Aditya Birla Group. They competed in the Open 10K and the 5.9km Marathon Dream Run, one of the largest mass sporting events in Asia.
The funds raised through the marathon would be used to help people who do not have easy access to mental health support and will also provide on-the-ground mental health interventions to the economically weaker sections of society through projects that Mpower runs under Samvedna and Oorja. Mr. Himanshu Kapadia – Senior Vice President, Grasim of Mpower Industries Limited, emphasizes the importance of addressing mental health issues and the overall goal of the marathon in an exclusive interaction with The CSR Journal. Below are snippets of the interaction.

1. What does the marathon want to achieve in terms of tackling mental illness?

Mpower, an initiative of Aditya Birla Education Trust, provides holistic mental health support. This year, Mpower plans to focus on youth as India has seen an exponential growth in youth-related mental health issues. So to boost awareness about mental health we were eager to join the Tata Mumbai Marathon which has a large number of young people participating and is a perfect platform to reach out to the youth of the country and encourage them to destigmatize mental health issues and discuss it openly just as they would talk about any physical ailment.

2. How did you get involved in the Tata Mumbai Marathon?

I am a supporter of Mpower for the Tata Mumbai Marathon from the very beginning. I have been running for the past ten years and running is a form of meditation. These 2-3 hours of my personal time are the most relaxing and stress free time. That’s why I urge everyone to run, as this helps the whole brotherhood and NGOs to support people with mental health issues.

3. Why do you think it is important to speak out about mental health problems?

Over the years, discussing the subject of mental illness freely has been challenging, and many people have a stigmatized view of mental health. It’s critical that we put mental health at the forefront of conversation topics and have open discussions about how we really feel because these issues are becoming more and more common. Treatments are available to aid recovery from mental health issues, which are actually extremely common. However, the stigma often prevents people from getting help, which can exacerbate their ailments and further isolate them. Making it more acceptable for people struggling with mental health disorders to seek help, develop coping mechanisms, and start the healing process will benefit our communities by talking about mental health. Moreover, mental health encompasses more than just mental illness. It’s also about maintaining a sense of well-being.

4. What should one look for when wondering whether professional help is needed?

Professional help may be advised when an emotional or mental health problem interferes with daily living or functioning. Through therapy one can learn to deal with and why one might feel certain things. It’s a good idea to encourage people by motivating them to explore their treatment options or potential therapists with them. People under pressure to seek treatment may become more resistant to making necessary changes.

5. Many people do not know the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist. How can they be educated about these things? What role can CSR play in this?

We strongly believe that recognizing that someone has a mental health problem and taking steps to seek professional help and believing it can be treated are the first steps towards self-education. Social investments in non-profit organizations and community-based solutions have enormous potential. Reports indicate that 274 million people in the world are in need of humanitarian assistance. Every year $20-30 billion is spent on social causes. But less than 2% of that reaches the grassroots or local changemakers. The answer is simple. Social investors supporting non-profit organizations and community-based solutions are the only way aid can reach the maximum number of people in a sustainable way.

6. What does an ideal CSR campaign aimed at mental health look like to you?

A CSR campaign in any space should prioritize impact on beneficiaries. At Mpower, the power to change a life through interventions is at the heart of all campaigns. Mental health is still a taboo subject in India. So each of our campaigns focuses on five pillars: awareness, clinical care, outreach, academia and helpline. Through these branches, we want to advocate prevention and provide services through a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, which guarantees maximum impact for the beneficiary.

7. With increasing urbanization and increasing pace of life, stress and anxiety among people are increasing. How can these be addressed?

Learning to cope with the stress of living in the city will benefit your physical and emotional well-being. The following tips can be helpful in preventing burnout, loneliness and despair from stealing the happiness of townspeople.
Give yourself extra time: If you want to appreciate life in today’s fast-paced environment, it is crucial to prioritize your personal health. A positive outlook increases your ability to concentrate, work more efficiently, and cope with stress.
Talk about it: One strategy for coping with the stress of city life is talking about the ups and downs. Realize that you are not alone by looking for people who can empathize with your situation. Therapy can be helpful if you are struggling with a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety.
Meditation: It’s essential to give yourself some me-time. Just stare at the sky or the ocean, or like me, just run away. Free your mind from clutter and just be in the present moment.
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