Social Awareness

Mariwala health initiative and mental health call for multi-sectoral

Action to make mental health services accessible to marginalised people and communities Underlines the need for participatory, community-based approaches to mental health

Mariwala Health Initiative convened a high-level workshop today to mainstream conversations on mental health and its intersections with other prevailing socio-economic and environmental issues.

Highlighting the need for a rights-based, psychosocial approach to mental health, the workshop underlined the need to move from a narrow, biomedical approach to mental health to one more inclusive and holistic.

The speakers also elaborated on the significance of community-based solutions for mental health issues and the need for an intersectional approach to mental health in workplaces.

The event witnessed the presence of several healthcare professionals, activists, and academics. Representatives from Mariwala Health Initiative included Raj Mariwala, Director, Priti Sridhar, CEO, and Anam Mittra, Lead of New Initiatives.

Other speakers at the event were Dr. Achal Bhagat, Psychiatrist, Apollo Hospital, and Priscilla Giri, Researcher, DLR Prerna, a Darjeeling-based NGO that works on various community initiatives.

 “Mental health is a development issue and must not be viewed in isolation from the prevailing socio-economic and environmental landscape. At present, discussions on mental health are largely seen from a biomedical perspective and need to focus on psychosocial realities. Mental health interventions need to be community-led and delivered by persons aware of the lived realities of the persons they serve.”

Speaking about redefining the approach to mental health, Raj Mariwala, Director of Mariwala Health Initiative, said,

 ‘’There is a need to step back and stop looking at mental health as an individual issue. Each of us experiences society from our respective social locations. Solving mental health issues is not a simple equation of access to services but interrogating of discrimination and societal disparities. It is important for media to bring this understanding while reporting on issues, not just related directly to mental health, but also while highlighting issues related to health systems, lack of affordable housing, labor laws, and climate change.’’

Highlighting the need for media deliberation around intersections of mental health, Priti Sridhar, CEO of Mariwala Health Initiative, said,

When talking about mental health, what one does not say is as important as what one does say. Conversations that layer the myths about mental health need to be avoided. These are: linking mental health to incapacity; correlating violence and mental health problems. What must be focused upon: mental health problems are common, and it is alright to seek help; lack of resources for mental health services, inadequate number, and training of professionals. Keeping expectations from treatment reasonable. There are no magical cures, but help is available.”

Speaking on the role of media in shaping the discourse on mental health, Dr. Bhagat, Psychiatrist at Apollo Hospital, said, “

 “While media frequently reports on treatment gaps, the care gap needs to be highlighted. While access to mental health services is an issue affecting several groups in India, there is a case to be made for community-based models. MHI’s work proves that we don’t need expensive, expert-led models for mental health care. We need to seed more community-based models, where the community is the expert in their issues, is empowered to deliver mental health services themselves.”

Priscilla Giri, the Researcher DLR Prerna, said,

Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) is a personal philanthropy of Mr. Harsh Mariwala, Chairperson of Marico Limited. MHI is an advocacy, capacity-building, and grant-making organization working on mental health, emphasizing making mental health services accessible to marginalized people and communities.

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