Airtel Sri Lanka, the most preferred telco by the youth, recently launched Sri Lanka’s first ever text-based mental health helpline in partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The service which went live on World Mental Health Day 2020, is free for Airtel customers and is also accessible for users of other mobile networks.
Connecting to the launch over video, CEO and Managing Director, Ashish Chandra said, “Digital technologies are transforming learning, socializing and communication among youth. Our brand is heavily engaged with young Sri Lankans and we are very much aware that they prefer to use digital platforms to engage and find solutions. At Airtel, we are always looking at ways to create meaningful connections for our customers by blending technology with human needs and this is one such initiative.”
The event took place alongside a panel discussion addressing this year’s theme for World Mental Health Day; “Mental health for all through greater investments and access”. The session was moderated by mental health advocate Shanuki De Alwis featuring, Dr. Pushpa Ranasinghe – Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, National Institute of Mental Health, Nivendra Uduman – Psychologist, and Kanishka Ranaweera – Head of HR, Airtel Lanka.
Addressing the gathering, Airtel’s Head of HR, Kanishka Ranaweera said, “Outside our business operations, a majority of our work focuses on empowering the next generation of Sri Lankan’s. From sports, to vocational training to even cybersecurity training, Airtel has been in the forefront of creating a lasting impact in education, careers and the lives of young people.”
According to the latest survey conducted by the World Health Organization, the ongoing pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide. As Sri Lankan’s continue to engage in social distancing, the introduction of the chat-line will be an important means for the youth of the country to continue to receive professional assistance in mitigating their mental health concerns in a safe and anonymous environment.
The launch of the 1926 text based chat-line is the latest activity in relation to youth empowerment conducted by the telco. Recently, the telco commemorated World Youth Skills Day 2020 together with the USAID project, YouLead by engaging in a series of vocational guidance webinars focusing on “skills in the workplace”.
Another notable activity by Airtel together with World Vision was a series of online safety awareness drives for school teachers and principals which reached over 6,000 educators across the country. Similarly, the telco has also engaged in multiple youth and sports skills development programmes including ‘Airtel Sri Lanka’s Fastest’ which concluded in 2019 and ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ the telco’s novelty youth sports programmes launched in association with Manchester United.