National, 08 August 2023: Championing the cause of mental health awareness among its Indian audiences, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) and Rajasthan Royals' philanthropic arm - the Royal Rajasthan Foundation (RRF) - have come together to launch the #KhulKeBolo campaign. The campaign film features Sonali Kulkarni, who spotlights women's lives and experiences from all spectrums of society, highlighting the mental health challenges faced and the need for awareness to deal with them. The campaign launch saw in attendance people from different walks of life like Kamalika Guha Thakurta – Actor and Founder of Artscape, Dr. Akanksha Rathi Maheshwari - Consultant Psychiatrist, Bombay Hospital; Dr. Priyanka Mahajan - Consultant Neuro Psychiatrist, Masina Hospital, Diksha Sekhri – Architect (Community Impact), Royal Rajasthan Foundation along with Manu Wadhwa – CHRO, SPNI and Ranjit Barthakur – Chairperson, Royal Rajasthan Foundation, accompanied by campaign ambassador Sonali Kulkarni, who was part of an engaging panel discussion around the importance of speaking up and being heard.
Women in India often experience unique social, cultural, and economic factors that can significantly impact their mental well-being. One of the key factors affecting women's mental health in India is gender inequality. According to experts, there is also a stark shortage of mental health professionals in the country, with less than 1% of the country's total health budget being allocated for mental health wellness, creating a treatment gap of 70-80%. These factors, coupled with the stigmatisation in society around the topic and the lack of access to mental health infrastructure, have continued to be a challenge for women from various walks of life in the country.
A study conducted by RRF to understand the mental health requirements of female cricketers in India concluded that 71% of adolescent girls and 76% of women find it difficult to ask for help when needed. The campaign #KhulKeBolo is an attempt by SPNI and RRF to create a safe space for such women to speak up and seek the help and support they need without hesitation.
As a part of the campaign, the NGO Sangath has offered their toll-free helpline number 011-41198666, which is operational every day between 10 am to 6 pm IST, for women to talk to mental health experts and seek guidance and support. This NGO will also run offline workshops with the backing of RRF across 15 villages in Rajasthan during the campaign. In addition to these, SPNI & RRF have also partnered with coto, a social communities app for women only – to build online communities and host workshops for women across different cities to maximise the impact.
Ranjit Barthakur, Chairperson, Royal Rajasthan Foundation:
"Here at the Royal Rajasthan Foundation - the philanthropic arm of IPL team Rajasthan Royals - our journey towards raising awareness around mental health started in 2020 with our series 'Mind, Body and Soul' which was led by our first-ever Royal - the late Shane Warne. As we launch the #KhulKeBolo campaign in collaboration with Sony Pictures Networks India, we continue that journey to break the shackles of silence surrounding women's mental health. We pledge to bridge the gap between questions and solutions, fostering an atmosphere where seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. As the understanding of mental health evolves, we must treat this subject as intrinsic to everyone and not as a separate subject. Keeping this in mind, we are working towards a larger vision of making mental health awareness and destigmatisation a vital part of our work across all our projects. Let's paint a brighter, happier canvas for all the wonderful women out there!"
Mr. N.P. Singh, Managing Director and CEO, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI):
"Women are integral to our organisation, and we have always supported and encouraged women's empowerment. The #KhulKeBolo campaign is a poignant reminder of the mental health challenges that many women fight daily. Our partnership with RRF is driven by a shared vision to break the taboo of silence around mental health issues."
Manu Wadhwa, Chief Human Resource Officer, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI):
“At SPNI, we are dedicated to the cause of inclusion and women in our workforce who form an integral part of our D&I strategy. We are committed to ensuring that women within our organisation and around the country are given fair, equitable opportunities and platforms for getting support on their growth journey. Through the #KhulKeBolo campaign, we endeavour to destigmatise mental health conversations and create a safe space for women to express their issues without worrying or fearing being judged and shamed. In partnership with Royal Rajasthan Foundation, this initiative is a step towards dismantling the stigma, empowering women to seek help and find solace in their journey to healing.”
Sonali Kulkarni, campaign ambassador of the #KhulKeBolo:
“While mental health issues have existed in our society across gendered differences, it is important to recognise how it affects women in more ways than one. Talking about mental health is still taboo and pushes many struggling people behind the curtain. Everyone needs to get the help they need without being shamed. I feel proud to be a part of something as meaningful as #KhulKeBolo, which helps bring the much-needed change in this space."