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1700 Mumbaikars cycle to raise awareness for mental health

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MUMBAI: Mpower, a pioneer in Indian mental healthcare from The Aditya Birla Education Trust, today returned with its fourth edition of Aditya Birla Health Insurance Ride to Mpower, a cycle ride to create awareness and stamp out the stigma associated with mental health illnesses. In this edition, Mpower aims to bring the #StampOutStigma in our society today by bringing together Mumbaikars and encourage them to increase conversations around mental health.

The cycle ride saw more than 1700 cyclists and fitness champions lend their support towards this critical cause as they cycled through the streets of Mumbai on 17th March 2019. These Mumbaikars pledged to become champions of mental health. Aditya Birla Health Insurance Ride to Mpower marks Mpower's most successful awareness initiatives. Over the last four editions, it strived to educate individuals on the correlation between physical and mental health toward an individual’s overall well-being.

Flagged off by Mrs. Neerja Birla, popular Cyclist and RTM Ride Director Firoza Suresh and Mr Mayank Bathwal, CEO Aditya Birla Health Insurance Co. Limited, the 27km ride began from Dome@NSCI to Asian Heart Institute, 15km ride began from Dome@NSCI to Shivaji Park and 7km rides began from Dome@NSCI to JK Kapur Chowk. The Movement saw avid participation of people from all walks of life including social and mental health activists, business leaders, inspirational youth icons and school children.

One in six people in India suffer from a serious mental disorder, and yet mental health remains a taboo in most Indian households, schools, colleges and offices. This taboo is what prevents real progress on the mental health front, primarily by attaching stigma to any and all mental health related concerns. The uncaring attitude, the ignorant labels, the tone-deaf conversations, the endless stigma and the lack of mental healthcare need to change. These #StampOutStigma through Aditya Birla Health Insurance Ride to Mpower will bring awareness and encourage conversation around mental health, as well as engage people to support, diagnose, prevent and seek help for mental health concerns.

Mazhar Nadiadwala, Managing Director, Dome Entertainment Pvt Ltd, said, “We, at Dome, truly believe that being healthy is beyond just having a fit body. It is about keeping the mind healthy as well. Dome Entertainment hosted Ride to Mpower 2019, a cycling marathon to spread awareness about mental health. This initiative was our effort at trying to reach out to the society to highlight that simple fact. It was truly heartening to see eminent personalities like Firoza Suresh, Mumbai’s first bicycle mayor and Dr. Ambrish Dharmadhikari, Psychiatrist & Head, Medical Services, Mpower – The Foundation be a part of this venture and participate in the cause. As a cycling enthusiast myself, I am thrilled to see cycling gain such a popularity as a sport. I have always believed that cycling is a unique sport which keeps both mind and body healthy. It was truly great to show people the benefits of cycling and the importance of mental health. This was the best way for us to do combine the two. It was a great experience collaborating with Mrs. Neerja Birla, Founder & Chairperson of Mpower for this event and we truly believe that what she is trying to do is a much needed aspect in today’s society. The events team of Mpower, headed by Anita Lobo were extremely cooperative to work with and it is great to align with a team that understands our values and perceptions so well. We saw great support from the Aditya Birla Group with Mayant Batwal, CEO of Aditya Birla Health; Darshana Shah, Head of Marketing, Aditya Birla Health Insurance and Amit Bajaj - President, Corporate Affairs, Aditya Birla Group all present at the event and helping us flag off different marathons. The presence and support of Bhushan Gaghrani - Principal Secretary, Chief Minister’s Office and Mr. Sanjay Barve - Commissioner of Police, Mumbai showed us the intensity of how important this cause was.”

Being a fitness aficionado herself, through this event, Mrs. Neerja Birla aims to bring together all fitness aficionados to pledge their support towards mental health. Commenting on this initiative - Ride to Mpower, Mrs. Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson, Mpower, said, “Mpower – The Movement is all about creating a paradigm shift in the way people think of mental health. Everyone knows that it's important and normal to take care of one's physical health and Mpower endeavours to make people aware that it is just as important and normal to take care of one's mental health. The cycle ride is our way of reaching out to the community, in order to highlight that a healthy mind is as important as a healthy body. This is the fourth cycle ride we've done and as participation increases, I hope that it will encourage more people to embrace a more holistic approach to wellness and self-care.”

Mumbai’s first bicycle mayor and a prominent figure in the cyclist community herself, RTM Ride Director Firoza Suresh said “I am happy to be part of the Aditya Birla Health Insurance Ride to Mpower initiative and see Mumbai come together and support this cause. We hope to have created awareness about the positive impact of cycling on mental health and how is very important in building physical endurance, connecting with nature, socializing & skill development, all invigorate the learning process”

Mr. Mayank Bathwal, CEO Aditya Birla Health said, “Mental health and awareness is crucial today and it must be welcomed without any stereotypes and preconceived notions in the society. Having seen Mumbaikars ride towards stamping out stigma and supporting our cause makes us believe that we have achieved a milestone towards promoting philosophy of health first in health insurance. With such a large participation, Aditya Birla Health Ride to Mpower has made a strong and impactful step forward in spreading awareness on the mental health menace that is slowly crippling our society.”

Anita Lobo, Head - Events, Mpower said, “I am happy to play a small part in creating awareness about this cause and delighted to see Mumbaikars extending their support. Ride to Mpower is in its 4th year now and encourages everyone to stay physically and mentally fit. People are now becoming more open about the subject and slowly, but steadily the taboo is being lifted. Through Mpower - The Movement, we aim to stamp out the stigma around mental health and sensitize people to be alert and speak up whenever necessary”

The brainchild of Mrs. Neerja Birla, Mpower was launched three years ago, and has been at the forefront to affect change and proactively champion the cause of mental health, create awareness, advocate prevention and provide services with a professional, holistic and multi-disciplinary approach in the country.

Stamp Out the Stigma around mental illnesses with Mpower - The Foundation

A World Health Organisation study reports that over 6% of the Indian population suffers from a serious mental disorder and do not have the right kind of help to facilitate recovery, which may lead to extreme situations like suicide.   In India, it is difficult to change perceptions related to mental health. The challenge lies in repairing the inborn conditioning which perceives mental illnesses as evil. We do not talk about mental health.

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