Mpower's Helping Hand

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Neerja Birla, 

Founder and Chairperson, Mpower
age: 50
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It was a 3 a.m. conversation with daughter Ananya that made Neerja Birla throw aside her hesitation (as her children were young) and launch Mpower. The very next morning, the psychology graduate started putting it all together. "Being involved in schools, having seen children from close quarters, I think one realises what the gaps in the system are," she says. The last year-and-a-half has been busy for Birla as Mpower reached out to people in distress. "Sometimes, it takes a big crisis to understand an issue in totality," says Birla, whose Mpower Foundation has logged in about 90,000 calls since it started a mental health helpline with the Maharashtra government. Birla envisions Mpower as a "one stop shop" for mental health. In a country with 0.75 psychiatrist per one lakh people, Mpower's most significant contribution will be capacity building. Birla says they are running programmes to train people to become the first point of contact and connect people to professionals.