Mpower Goes Virtual to Champion Mental Health Amid Pandemic

Industry Watch | May 19, 2021 | News

MPower BMC

For about two weeks now, a chatbot has been added to the BMC-Mpower 24-hour helpline launched in April 2020. The free one-on-one helpline 1800 120 820050 was launched by the mental health care provider in association with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for those distressed by the Covid19 pandemic to open up to a qualified counselor.

After a peak of 45,000 calls in the first two months of launch, there was a lull as the world seemed to be returning to normalcy. But the number of callers has started going up with the second wave. The total number of calls received now stands at over 72,000, counting only calls related to Covid-induced mental distress. But there were also people who said they were unable to speak freely over a phone call from home, because there were others around. Hence, the chatbot.

Those in distress using the chatbot to seek counsel reflects the shift to virtual that has been forced on the event industry. Organisations like Mpower have also been impacted and forced to move some of their physical events (tentatively) to November 2021 and beyond. But in the year gone by and in the immediate future, the entity has moved event properties ranging from doctor conferences to cycle rides, online, with good effect. 


Mpower was born in 2016 under the Aditya Birla Education Trust with a stated vision to #StampOutStigma around mental health. Every year, on World Mental Health Day, Mpower has launched digital outreach initiatives led by content. In 2017, it was with Terribly Tiny Tales, which the organisation claims touched the lives of a million people across digital channels (impressions). For a 2018 initiative with Unerase Poetry under #SunoDekhoKaho,  the corresponding number was 0.53.

In 2020, Mpower seems to have shifted gears with a #SunoDekhoKaho conversation on mental health between its Founder and Chairperson Neerja Birla and Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, which registered 32 million impressions.

Virtual Shift

Some of Mpower’s marquee events moved to the digital space, which it claims gave access to untapped markets, and aided in fulfilling the mission of creating awareness about mental health.

The first of them was the fourth edition of Mpower Professional Conclave in July 2020 with over 120 mental health professionals discussing the impact of divorce on children.

The second edition of Mpower’s Be The Change conference in November 2020 brought together over 185 professionals from education and mental health to discuss the importance of resilience, now more than ever.

An annual cycle ride property Ride to Mpower saw 2,000 people participate in a physical leg in February 2020, before the onset of the pandemic. Over a period of 15 days in December, a virtual ‘Move for the Mind - Ride to Mpower – a fundraiser for Mpower-The Foundation’ saw participants register to complete a fitness tasak. They were offered curated home workouts and live workout sessions by Gold’s Gym. Across social media, the event reached over 312k people, claims the company.

There was also an hour-long launch event that went virtual, with media participation. The Aditya Birla Education Trust launched its newest Mpower centre in Kolkata through an unveiling and tour in the presence of Neerja Birla and chief guest, former Indian cricketer and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly.

‘We have a long way to go in the online space’: Neerja Birla

Anita Lobo, ​Head, Events & PR to Founder & Chairperson, Mpower - Aditya Birla Education Trust, said, “The onset of the pandemic saw a huge spike in mental health cases. Taking this into consideration, there was a greater need to connect with the public, and engage with them, to let them know that they are not alone. Through our events and campaigns, we have been able to connect with audiences across the country, and keep them informed at every step of the way about the works Mpower is doing, and how we are here for them.”

Crediting the team, Chairperson Birla said, “The team has done us proud. In the face of adversity, they were able to create a strong impact among all our stakeholders. Throughout the lockdown, we were able to reach out to people from across the country. We also released a video along with Shri Amitabh Bachchan, where he and I addressed the signs and symptoms of mental health, and what we can do to address mental health concerns. Since the launch, the campaign has received a staggering 32 million impressions, over 3 million unique viewers, and over 2.5 million Interactions on various digital media platforms. This is just the beginning and we have a long way to go in the online space.”

Mpower believes that virtual events will continue to play an important role in connecting brands and causes with audiences. The potential for wellness events is huge, and will only get bigger from here on, contend its representatives.

Covid19 mental distress helpline with BMC gets buzzing again with second wave; chatbot launched in response to caller feedback.

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