The Mukta Charitable Foundation (MCF), a non-profit organisation, has initiated mental health sessions for the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) staff. The inaugural session was held at the Kothrud bus depot on Monday, with subsequent sessions planned for the Katraj bus depot and Swargate bus depot.
This effort comes in the wake of a recent incident where a PMPML driver, identified as Nilesh Dnyaneshwar Sawant, recklessly reversed a bus in a fit of rage, endangering the lives of passengers. Sawant, employed by one of the bus contractors that operate buses for PMPML, was arrested following the widely shared video of the incident on Senapati Bapat Road, where passengers desperately sought help. This incident prompted concerns about the mental health issues faced by PMPML drivers.
Following this incident, MCF approached PMPML with the intent to provide psychological support to their staff through regular mental health sessions. These sessions aim to address anger and stress management, along with educating employees about the adverse effects of drug addiction.
Speaking to The Free Press Journal, Dr Rupa Agarwal, Secretary and Trustee, MCF, emphasised the importance of mental health and the need to change societal perceptions. She noted that mental health is often not given the attention it deserves, and there is a prevailing notion that individuals who speak about their mental health issues are making a big deal out of it.
She further explained, "In certain professions, individuals find work satisfaction, and their mental health remains unaffected. However, being a bus driver or conductor is often considered a thankless job. They must adhere to their schedules, navigate traffic, deal with disputes with passengers and other drivers, all while carrying personal burdens and frustrations. This accumulation of stress and frustration can have a detrimental impact on their mental health. Therefore, we have initiated this program to assist PMPML staff in managing stress, emotional balance, and overall mental well-being. We ensure their anonymity, as discussing mental health issues is still considered taboo."