Art Express – an initiative to address mental health stigma held in Pune

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Pune, March 25, 2023: – Mpower, an initiative of Aditya Birla Education Trust and a pioneer in the mental health space in India, is taking significant steps to address the increasing mental health concerns in Pune.

The city has been grappling with anxiety, depression, work pressure, and relationship issues, along with mental health concerns amongst children such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Autism spectrum disorder, etc, as per the cases witnessed at the Mpower Centre in Pune located at the Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital.

Despite the pandemic and growing mental health issues, speaking up about mental health concerns and seeking help remains taboo. In an effort to break the stigma and promote positive mental health, Mpower organized the ‘Mpower Art Express’ in Pune.

The event was conducted in collaboration with Pune-based artist Kartikey Sharma, iVolunteer NGO, and local artists, who painted a 3,500 sq ft wall with Mental Health murals.

The murals featured thought-provoking messages aimed at normalizing mental health conversations and promoting positive mental health.

The activity stretched from Rakshak Chowk, Jagtap Dairy, to Aundh BART in Pune and garnered active support from doctors of Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, school and college students, corporate employees, and Punekars who came out in full support to promote the cause.

The two-day event saw participation of over 2000 volunteers and was held on March 25 and 26, between 9.30 to 1.30 pm.

The volunteers were provided with painting materials and were guided by professional artists to create artwork that promotes mental well-being and creates a positive impact on the community. The project was spearheaded by post permissions from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

“We are thrilled to bring the Mpower Art Express initiative to Pune for the first time,” said Dr. Neerja Birla, Founder and Chairperson of Mpower and Aditya Birla Education Trust.

“Art has the power to not only raise awareness about mental health issues but also engage audiences and drive positive change. It’s important to recognize that mental health is still a taboo topic, and many people suffer in silence. We hope that through the Art Express initiative, we can connect with people and encourage them to have open and honest conversations about mental health, while also highlighting the importance of seeking professional help when needed. Art can be a therapeutic medium, and we believe that this initiative can help us build a culture that supports positive mental health and wellbeing.”

Pune-based graffiti artist Kartikey Sharma, “Art has the power to make people feel better and happier, regardless of age. Mpower has already done incredible work in creating awareness about mental health, and we are proud to join forces with them to support such an important cause. There is a growing awareness of mental health concerns in India, and through this initiative, we hope to raise awareness among Punekars that mental health issues can affect anyone, and seeking help can lead to a fulfilling life.”

Sharma’s association with Mpower Art Express reinforces the belief that art can act as both a medium for creating awareness and driving engagement among audiences on mental health issues, as well as a form of therapy to overcome mental health challenges.