Harsh Mariwala, Chairman, Marico Ltd Launches Mariwala Health Initiative Focusing on Mental Health

Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI), a philanthropic initiative founded by Harsh Mariwala, focusing on mental health, has launched its website www.mariwalahealthinitiative.org on World Mental Health Day, today. The MHI website will be an effective portal for sharing information and stories about mental health innovations, services, advocacy, and expertise in India.

“There is an acute lack of awareness when it comes to mental health in India. The availability of services offered today urgently needs an overhaul, keeping in mind affordability and accessibility. With this in mind, we have launched the Mariwala Health Initiative to support and promote innovative and scalable mental health provisions in order to provide quality services to people across India,” said Harsh Mariwala, Founder, Mariwala Health Initiative & Chairman, Marico Ltd.

Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) is a funding agency for innovative and inclusive mental health initiatives, especially those that are committed to making mental well-being accessible to the most marginalized persons and communities. Through prioritization of such projects, MHI aims at creating an understanding of mental health that goes beyond narrow medical definitions and signals a shift towards inclusive, holistic, and empathetic programs. MHI has partnered with organizations that have a comprehensive approach to mental health, and are invested in using methodologies aimed at creating a well-rounded mental health ecosystem.

“MHI is a dedicated effort to change conversations around mental health in India. We approach mental health through a rights based perspective, centering the agency and rights of the individual. This also means we support mental health provisions for marginalised populations who cannot access services and are being left out of mainstream mental health narratives,” said Rajvi Mariwala, Director, Mariwala Health Initiative.

As an online platform, www.mariwalahealthinitiative.org is envisaged as a space to collaborate with stakeholders, engage with current debates in the field of mental health, and showcase best practices for addressing mental health and well-being by highlighting the work of our grantee-partners. It aspires to be a medium bringing together diverse sections, and linking policy makers with mental health experts, service providers and academics. The website explains MHI’s grant-making process for potential partners, while hosting a section for academic and research-based writing around mental health. It aims to offer a ‘big picture’ perspective on mental health in India, using an intersectional approach to address the complexities in social relationships and contexts that affect an individual’s mental health and well-being.

MHI’s work is grounded in rights-based, progressive and empathetic mental health advocacy that acknowledges and addresses the multiple vulnerabilities wrought by discriminations arising out of gender, class, caste and religious identities, physical and intellectual disabilities, sexual identities and orientations, besides the power structures that prevail in societies, institutions, and families.

At present, MHI is the principal funder for iCALL, a psychosocial helpline that offers counselling services by telephone and email to individuals in psychosocial distress, as well as for Bapu Trust’s program ‘Seher’ that links development, disabilities, communities, and mental health concerns. MHI is also a joint funder for Atmiyata, an initiative of the Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy of the Indian Law Society, Pune, a community-based mental health intervention focused on promoting wellness and reducing distress through community volunteers in rural India. Among other projects, MHI partially supports the work of Anjali, a mental health rights organization based in West Bengal.

“MHI takes into account the standpoint of the marginalized. The margins provide critical counter-narratives to any dominant norm. The mental health field needs to listen and learn from these counter- narratives,” said Shruti Chakravarty, Chief Advisor, Mariwala Health Initiative

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