A year after its launch, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s mental health helpline clocked over 72,000 calls, with a majority from men, pertaining to job security and health during the Covid-19 pandemic, an official said here on Wednesday. The “BMC-Mpower1on1”, a 24X7 helpline, received calls on a variety of issues ranging from jobs to academics, and fear of contracting Covid to depression.

A whopping 70 percent of the callers were males, breaking the stereotype that men are unable to express themselves as freely as women. Around 25 percent of the calls were from those experiencing anxiety and stress related to jobs, careers, getting infected by a coronavirus, and examinations. Another 10 percent of the callers complained of depression, low moods, bouts of sadness, and hopelessness, while 8 percent raised relationship concerns with family members or life partners.

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The callers’ age ranged between 18-85 years but the maximum, 53 percent, fell in the youth category – 26-40 age group, followed by the youngsters in 18-25 age group who accounted for 28 percent, while those bordering the senior category above 55 years were 5 percent.

Through the helpline, we gave India a ‘listening ear’, a platform to unleash their bottled-up feelings and ensure that all could get the help they sought. Pixabay

The callers hailed from all walks of life including corporate employees, farmers, teachers, and students who sought assistance from the helpline from Mpower’s professional mental health counselors. Though it was launched to address the problems of Maharashtra people, there were many who called from Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Lucknow, besides maximum callers from Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, and Solapur in this state.

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Giving an indicator of the pandemic panic, Mpower’s data showed that in the first Covid wave in 2020, the number of callers peaked at 40 percent during April-May (2020) and availed the services in English, Hindi, and Marathi. Mpower Chairperson Neerja Birla said that mental health has always been a grave concern in India, but it was only during the pandemic last year that the crisis came to the fore and people opened up about their struggles.

“Through the helpline, we gave India a ‘listening ear’, a platform to unleash their bottled-up feelings and ensure that all could get the help they sought. From the findings, we shall resolve towards making mental healthcare more accessible all over India,” she said. The helpline was launched in April 2020 by the BMC and the Maharashtra government and served people during the lockdown when most people were cooped up indoors, without private time/space, or other types of freedom. (IANS/JC)