Industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla’s wife and mother of three, Neerja Birla shares the inside track on spreading mental health awareness.
A philanthropist, educator and now an avid mental health activist, Neerja Birla is on a noble mission. In nammooru to launch MPower – The Centre, which will provide Bengalureans a range of mental health services, the fitness freak and doting mom got candid about her brainchild, how she likes to keep herself fit and more. When it comes to mental health, Neerja states that her vision is to reach out to as many people as possible and impact many lives. The idea to launch the organisation was born three years ago, thanks to Neerja’s regular interaction with school-going children and teens.
The mother who takes to Twitter often to update, constantly speaks about what parents should do for the good of their children, and has been known to keep smart phones at bay on the family dining table! The city of Bengaluru is her second home, and she reveals, “We’ve been coming here for many years now. It’s a great city with weather that’s always great — it’s second home. It’s always nice to be here.”
The industrialist’s wife straddles many roles. Neerja’s first daughter Ananya Birla, who’s a singer and entrepreneur is also the co-founder of the recently-launched organisation. A hands-on mother to Ananya, her son Aryaman (who’s a cricketer) and her younger daughter Advaitesha, Neerja noticed that children nowadays needed extra help and faced many challenges. And that inspired her to become an activist.
Ask her how she personally likes to de-stress and remain calm amidst her choc-a-block schedule and she says, “I ensure I get my daily dose of fitness and exercise – that’s something I try not to miss. It’s important to take time off to exercise. I also spend time with my kids. I travel a lot and do a bit of trekking and enjoy open spaces and nature — these are my doses of regular rejuvenation. Having said that, I must add that one needs to do it regularly, it’s not good enough just to be in a pressure cooker for three months and then taking two days off, one needs to take time off every day to do certain practices.”
On her work as an activist promoting mental health, Neerja says, “We’ve been running a couple of schools for the past 10 years. As I have three children, I noticed that whenever there was a problem, one wasn’t aware of what to do or didn’t know where to go. That’s how this whole initiative came together and we decided to create awareness about mental health and provide clinical services,” she reveals before rushing to the airport to attend an awards show, where she was recognised for her contribution to mental health and education.