About us

MHI provides grants and strategic support to organizations and collectives working within communities to provide greater access to mental health services for all.

Theory of Change

By fostering an environment of accessible, affirmative, rights-based and user-centric mental healthcare, MHI seeks to visibilise narratives in mental health that centres structural determinants and foreground voices of historically marginalised communities.

MHI Stakeholder infographic
This is an infographic showing all the stakeholders of Mariwala Health Initiative. MHI is a circle in the center, surrounded by six circles representing six categories of stakeholders. The first one is service providers. This includes psychiatrists, psychologists, barefoot counselors, therapists, non-profits and psychiatric social workers. The second category of stakeholders is researchers including independent institutions, individuals, universities and colleges. The third category is named activists - Disability activists, mental health activists, livelihood activists, LGBTQIA+ activists and feminist activists come under this category. The fourth category of stakeholders is law and policy. This includes bureaucrats, Municipal Corporation, anganwadi workers, think tanks, non-profit law and policy makers, state and central government and local representatives. The fifth category of stakeholders is different communities that are vulnerable or marginalized. This consists of adolescents, youth, the elderly, Dalit, Adivasi and OBC communities, women, LGBTQIA+, the economically vulnerable, homeless people, rural communities, urban informal settlements, single parents, religious minorities and persons with disabilities. The sixth category of stakeholders includes users and survivors of psychiatric services, suicide survivors, current and potential users of mental health services and caregivers.

MHI partners with projects that together constitute a multi-pronged approach, through intervention programs as well as advocacy in the areas of law and policy.

We align with a rights-based, psychosocial approach that considers mental health concerns in the context of disability rights. We expand on the narrow medical understandings of mental health and illness and looks at these through a systemic lens. We understand oppressions based on caste, gender, religion, region, ability, and sexuality based oppression as major contributors to mental health distress. We encourage community-based interventions, and actively promote the deinstitutionalization of mental health services.

Our Goals

MHI works with marginalized communities: Graphic
This graphic shows a range of marginalized communities MHI aims to reach. There are many axes of marginalization, including Age, that is, adolescents and elderly. Persons with disabilities are foregrounded in our work. We hope to reach out to economically vulnerable people including households with low income, homeless persons and single parent households. In India, it is very important to actively reach out to marginalized castes and communities like Adivasi, Dalit, OBC and Rural communities and indigenous peoples. We also center work on gender by working with women and LGBTQIAHK+. Religious minorities are also communities that we would like to reach out to.

Our goals include reaching out to marginalized populations and communities, in order to alleviate their mental health concerns, as well as capacity building for individuals, organizations, communities, and institutions through training, building networks, and knowledge sharing.


To collaborate with a range of stakeholders in the area of mental health in India, in order to create wider awareness of essential concerns.

To support and enable quality services as well as ongoing research, and encourage innovative, culturally sensitive, and inclusive community-based interventions.

To work towards capacity building for individuals, organizations, communities and institutions through training, network building and knowledge sharing, and stimulate law and policy reforms.


The following ethics and values guides MHI's work:

  • Accountability: Our framework of ethics takes into account the varying marginalizations of communities we work with. The foundation of our work is accountability. We are accountable to the responsibilities we take up and the communities we serve.
  • Affirmation: We continuously seek to affirm our commitment towards foregrounding the voices of the historically oppressed.
  • Collaboration: We work with all internal and external stakeholders on a non-hierarchical, equal footing leveraging the unique strengths of each stakeholder involved.
  • Innovation: We will uphold and support true innovation that is outside the scope of markets, traditional philanthropy and public services.
  • Integrity: We actively seek to uphold a culture characterized by truthfulness, trust and mutual support.
  • Reflexivity: We believe in being dynamic and reflexive to current socio-political affairs and building our work in a way that benefits the communities we seek to serve and contribute to rights for all.
  • Respect: We believe in nurturing an environment of respect to every individual and organization.
  • Social Justice: MHI's work in grantmaking and capacity building will uphold the core principles of social justice, viz, participation, human rights, equity and access.

Our Journey so far

Talking to stakeholders

- mental health professionals, users, service providers -- to glean insights about mental health, and existing need gaps.

iCall Strategic Partnership

Strategic partnership with iCall, an existing service based in Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

Partnership with Bapu Trust, Pune

Bapu Trust works with stakeholders in the development sector to encourage the inclusion of persons with mental health issues and psychosocial disabilities.

Partnership with Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy, Pune

CMHLP builds awareness of and advocates rights-based approach to mental health policy and legislation.

Partnership with Anjali, Kolkata

an organization working with persons who suffer from chronic mental illnesses, living in state institutions for care and treatment.

Sponsored Bapu Trust's arts-based therapy course for practitioners

a certificate course in Arts Based Therapy (ABT) with a focus on psychosocial health, mental health and disabilities.

MHI website launched

The site was built centering accessibility. Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with websites, by people with disabilities.

Sponsored trainings conducted by CMHLP

on Mental Health Care Act 2017 for a range of stakeholders.

Partnership with Anubhuti Trust

to support 'Community Development Committees' comprising local youth, to lead counseling, trainings, awareness drives, as well as advocacy with local and municipal government on development concerns of their area.

Project to provide Family Court Counseling Centers

to understand marital concerns and stressors experienced by litigants of family courts in Maharashtra and to develop counseling and other interventions for the 11 Family Courts across the state.

Partnership with Bhor Foundation

to sponsor their 'Merchants of Madness Foundation'.


for mental health practitioners.


with Basic Needs India, SNEHA Mumbai, Schizophernia Awareness Association, Ya_all, Burans Project, DLR Prerna, RCJJ, Mann and Rahi

Launched peer support practice

for LGBTQI+ individuals.

Study on Mental Health of Entrepreneurs

in partnership with Ascent Foundation.

Received the Hurun Award

for outstanding work in philanthropy in Mental Health.

Initiated Community of Practice

led by Mental Health frontline workers in partnership with the University of Edinburgh.

MoU with Bihar State Government

to build capacity and implement the Mental Healthcare Act 2017.


with Ishwar Sankalpa, Kashmir Lifeline, DISHA and WAYVE Foundation.

COVID relief

in partnership with 23 community-based organizations and collectives across 18 states.

Launched Gender, Sexual and Mental Health from the Margins

- an introductory workshop-style session for college students.

Launched Youth Care Network

in partnership with The YP Foundation to train youth leaders, on mental health. These leaders would in turn, be able to provide peer counselling services and referrals in their community and sphere of work.

Partnered with

Moitrisanjog, Nirangal

Partnered with

Jeeva Trust

Partnered with


Launched the Alliance for Suicide Prevention

The Alliance will bring together funders, organizations, activists, researchers and policymakers to work cohesively on preventing suicide in India at the individual and community levels.

Partnered with

Project Ohana

Roundtable Discussion on Approaches to Suicide Prevention

Partnered with the Policymakers' Forum for Mental Health, Sneha and the Lancet Psychiatry to discuss approaches to suicide prevention with various Members of Parliament.

Partnered with


Partnered with

The Listening Station

Launched QACP Resource Book

The Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice (QACP) Resource Book is a pathbreaking text that is truly the first of its kind to be published as a textbook for Psy disciplines. The book provides a balance of information, perspective, skill and an eclectic set of pedagogic tools for Mental health professionals, social workers and stakeholders within mental health to engage with the content that is drawn from the lived experiences of queer-trans realities.

Partnered with

BDS Samabhoobana

Partnered with

Project Sahyog

Partnered with

Project SPEAK

Partnered with

Project Mann Marziyan

Partnered with

SNEHA Foundation Trust

Partnered with

LAW Foundation, Bihar

Partnered with


Partnered with

Shahjani Shiksha Kendra

Patnered with

Rising Flame Foundation, Nayi Disha

Patnered with

Trust for Youth and Child Leadership, Signing Hands Foundation

Patnered with

Schizophrenia Awareness Association

Patnered with

Stand for Kashmiri Youth

Patnered with

Kranti Community Foundation, Parvatiya Mahila Vikas Trust, CMHLP-Project STRIDE

Patnered with

Dalit Sthree Sakthi, GeoHazards Society

Patnered with

Mental Health Support Foundation, People’s Voice, Savitri Fatima Foundation for Inclusive Development

Patnered with

Project 39A - NLU Delhi, Thar Mahila Sansthan

Patnered with

Shree Amrutvahini Gramvikas Mandal, Ondede, ANEKA Trust

Patnered with

Positive YUVA Network Association, Aashiyana Communities Foundation

Patnered with

Emmanuel Hospital Association

Our Impact

publications & research activities complete
were used to maximize support 17,000+ times
24,000+ people
trained under

Our Team

Abhilash Durugkar

Abhilash is a Grants Associate at the Mariwala Health Initiative. He has completed his Master's in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Abhilash has previously worked on issues of homeless persons with mental illness, labour rights and the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017. He is interested in the intersection of gender, caste, homelessness and mental health. He also has freelance experience as a content writer and has contributed to various publications.

Ahmed Mahroof

Mahroof holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Hindu College, University of Delhi, and further pursued a Master's degree in M.A Social Work in Mental Health from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. His professional journey as a dedicated social worker has led him to passionately engage in the realms of mental health and disability rights. Mahroof's focus revolves around driving positive change in the spheres of accessibility, awareness, and affordability. Currently, at MHI, he serves as an Associate - New Initiatives. In this capacity, he has been entrusted with the management of strategic projects, diligently coordinating project activities, and overseeing the delegation of tasks.

Aleen Barwa

Aleen has Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Applied Psychology from Ramanujan College, Delhi and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai respectively. At MHI, they are working as an Associate (Indigenous Mental Health). They have previously worked as a trainee counsellor (under supervision) and on research projects during their educational period. Their interest lies in mental health interventions, policies, practitioner’s education, power dynamics within the field, diverse human experiences and the construction of self and culture. In their spare time, Aleen observes the world, tries to capture its complexities and then consumes media content about it.

Amalina S

Amalina (she/her) has a Bachelor’s Degree and a Post-Graduate Diploma in psychology from FLAME University, Pune. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Social Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has conducted research on a wide variety of social science topics, including trauma-related disorders in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. At MHI, she works as a training associate, and is involved in the administration, impact assessment and curriculum review of MHI’s various training programs. She is interested in studying the impact of the lack of accessible reproductive healthcare on mental health.

Anam Mittra

Anam Mittra is our Lead, New Initiatives. Her work experience of a decade spans working on issues of gender, sexuality, education and the social and solidarity economy. She has worked on research, project implementation, communications and membership development verticals in the Indian and international non-profit space. Anam has completed her Masters in Development Studies from TISS, Mumbai and her second Masters in Development Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.   

Anugraha Hadke

Anugraha is Communications Manager at MHI. She is an editor and storyteller who has spent her professional life at the intersection of digital media and social justice. She has experience in training writers on social justice reporting, leading digital campaigns, and as a communications consultant in the development sector. Anugraha graduated in Journalism from Delhi University and received her post-graduate degree in International Journalism from Cardiff University.

Darshan Vaghela

Darshan Vaghela is a Finance Analyst at MHI, leveraging over six years of experience in Accounts and Taxation. He has proficiency in general accounting, taxation, and audits, with a distinct focus on Forensic Audits. His responsibilities span comprehensive financial partner reviews, managing budgets for partners, and overseeing organization-level budgeting. He seamlessly aligns his skills and experience with MHI's objectives, contributing to financial prudence and optimal fund utilization. He holds a CA Intermediate certification from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

Debashree Das

Debashree is a Grants Associate at Mariwala Health Initiative. She has a Master's in Applied Psychology from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and has experience working in academia in the past. She is greatly enthusiastic to learn more about the intersections of gender and mental health. Debashree also has an interest in animal behavior and literature.

Fizza Hasan

Fizza Hasan is the Content & Social Media Associate at MHI. She has worked primarily in content, communication and social strategy — with focus on topics such as gender-based violence, sexual & reproductive health, economic empowerment, and climate justice. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Literature, and Political Science.

Harsh Mariwala

Mr. Mariwala, who leads Marico Limited as its Chairman, founded Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) in 2015. He is also Chairman and Managing Director of Kaya Limited. Over the past three decades, he has transformed a traditional, commodities-driven business into a leading consumer products and services company in the Beauty and Wellness area. Under his leadership, Marico has received numerous awards, and over 100 external recognition. Mr Mariwala was President of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in 2011.

Maimoona Sultan

Maimoona is a Programs Associate at MHI. She holds a master's degree as well as a postgraduate diploma in Clinical Psychology from Patna University. Maimoona has past experience working with homeless persons with mental health issues, in addition, she has worked as a trainee counsellor and psychotherapist. She is interested in the intersection of psychosocial support, counselling and mental healthcare.

Mangala Honawar

Mangala Honawar, PhD is Lead, Grants at MHI. Her experience spanning 15 years includes diverse roles as a social worker, project coordinator, project head, teaching associate and fieldwork supervisor. She led the access to justice portfolio at one of the largest philanthropies in India and her areas of expertise include project management and implementation, grant management, liaison with government departments across themes such as violence against women and children, homelessness, community policing, prison reforms, victim restoration and de-notified tribes. She has completed her PhD on recidivism among women offenders from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Mayura Saavi

Mayura is a Content and Social Media Associate at MHI. She has 12 years of experience working with Broadcast and Digital media. Her work so far has been focused on caste, gender, culture and cinema. She has experience in training media students and faculty on critical perspective building on mass media & content creation. Mayura did her Bachelors in Mass Media with specialization in Journalism from Mumbai University and Masters in Media and Cultural Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. 

Mohammad Nawazuddin

Nawaz is a Grants Manager at MHI. He has over 7 years of experience across sectors and has joined MHI after being associated with different civil society organisations, primarily in Rajasthan, working on issues of labour rights, transparency, food and social security having Constitutional values and rights as the underlying principle. His experience lies in programme management, organisational development, youth capacity building and working with the government.

Priti Sridhar

Priti Sridhar is CEO at MHI. She focuses on building the Grants portfolio which is primarily community led, spearheads the advocacy initiatives where she leads the work on Suicide Prevention, Workplace Mental Health, working with government and collaborating with Funders to invest in mental health. Priti has been able to conceptualise and implement programs and training to build the mental health ecosystem in India. She has 25 years of work experience and has worked with Not-for-profit organisations working on the issue of Mental health, Child Rights and Homelessness as well with For-Profit organisations in Banking, Financial Services and Ratings. Priti has extensive knowledge in Finance, Strategy and HR and aims to combine these experiences with her interests in rights-based mental health to spotlight and support organisations and leaders providing community-based interventions.

Raj Mariwala

Raj Mariwala is Director, MHI. Apart from being a practicing canine and feline behaviourist,  Raj is also a board member of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People.

Saisha M.

Saisha is a Research Manager at MHI. Her experience includes grantmaking and research in community-based mental health in India, accessible mental health care, and intersectoral perspectives in mental health and suicide prevention. She holds a MSc in Global Mental Health and Society from the University of Edinburgh (2023), and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bard College. Apart from community-based mental health work, Saisha’s interests include media analysis on issues of identity.

Sakshi Sangekar

Sakshi is a Grants Associate at Mariwala Health Initiative, who holds a Master's in Clinical Psychology from Maniben Nanavati Women’s College, Mumbai. She is a psychoanalyst in training, affiliated with the Indian Psychoanalytical Society. Sakshi has worked as a trainee psychologist in psychiatry care and mental health clinics. Her interests lie in clinical research, feminism, and multicultural counselling. 

Shruthi M

Shruthi M (she/ they) is Associate, New Initiatives at MHI. Their experience spans working in the eldercare and precious metals refining sectors. Shruthi also has an interest in poetry, music and intersectional feminism. They have a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy from The Takshashila Institution and an MBA in Marketing and Finance.

Shruti Chakravarty

Shruti Chakravarty, PhD, (cis woman; pronouns: she, her) has 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, as a mental health practitioner, researcher, trainer, and social worker. Her areas of engagement have been mental health, gender and sexuality, from a rights-based perspective. She has an independent therapeutic practice based in Mumbai, has in-depth experience working with LGBTQIA+ clients in the therapeutic space, and has co-authored Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice (QACP): A Resource Book for Mental Health Practitioners in India. She has completed her PhD on the subject of queer intimacies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Shruti is Chief Advisor at Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) and also faculty at the Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice course run by MHI.

Smriti Mishra

Smriti (she/her) has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a PG Diploma in Interwoven Arts from Krea University. She has dedicated five years to working with underprivileged and marginalised rural communities, focusing on promoting education accessibility and women’s empowerment through the ‘Jagriti’ project. Her impactful work earned her team the runner-up position at The Global Education & Leadership Foundation and the title of Changemaker from the Ashoka Youth Venture, recognising her efforts in addressing complex social and economic issues in rural India. Smriti researched to explore the relationship between sports engagement and its impact on alleviating loneliness among college students. At Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI), she serves as a Training Associate, coordinating the flagship Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice Course and spearheading a Suicide Prevention project focusing on the LGBTQI+ community.


Vandana (she/ they) is a Grants Associate at MHI. She has completed her Master's in Social Work in Mental Health from BALM-TISS, Chennai. She has worked in content localization and translation in parallel to her education for the past 4 years. She has a keen interest in the area of social justice.


Vaishali Sonavane

Dr. Vaishali is a Grants Manager at MHI. She holds a Phd in Women’s Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Hyderabad. Dr. Vaishali has 15 years of experience with NGOs, Government Institutions, International and national networks and rights’ based movements across themes such as women’s health, dalit rights, manual scavenging and unorganised workers’ rights. Vaishali has training expertise in topics like gender and health. She is also a certified mental health professional.


Grants Associate at MHI, holds a background in Philosophy from the University of Delhi. Worked in community service with welfare committees of tribal organisations and Naga communities in Delhi for 6 years. Experience includes program coordination in disability management with NGOs. Interested in the mental health of Indigenous communities and their lived experiences.

Advisory Committee

Amalina Kohli Dave

Amalina Kohli Dave is a mental health activist, user-survivor, who has organised queer mental health discussion groups and co-hosted a series of workshops about mental health in theatre . She has also started support groups for people with chronic illness, including chronic pain and autoimmune illness. Her previous research includes studies on race and mental health access as well as queer persons experiences with cishet mental health professionals. While Amalina's day job is in rare book restoration, she has studied Gender and is inspired by a feminist disability rights approach and crip theory.

Dr. Kiran Valake

Kiran is a young doctor from B J Medical College Pune and his aiming to do his MD. In the past, he has actively worked with an organization working towards making caste affirmative mental health services available for people from Bahujan communities. His interests lie in making institutes of higher learning safe spaces for caste marginalized students. In the near future, he hopes to train mental health professionals on protocols for working with clients from marginalized castes.

Poonam Pardesi

Poonam Pardesi is blind since birth, and has a total of 16 years of work experience in the social sector. She is a trained social worker from TISS Mumbai, and currently works as a Programme Officer with Aide et Action International, a Switzerland based Funder as part of the Programme Development and Support Unit. Poonam believes that disability issues must be placed as human rights issues, and as part of humanity and human diversity.

Ruby Hembrom

Ruby Hembrom is an Adivasi cultural documentarian and practitioner based in Kolkata. She is the founder of adivaani (first voices), an archiving and publishing outfit of and by Adivasis (the indigenous peoples of India) started in July 2012 as a non-profit organization. She is the writer of adivaani’s Santal Creation Stories for children, a recast of the Santal Creation myths in English and the prize-winning Disaibon Hul, on the Santal Rebellion of 1855–57. Her documentation initiative grew out of a need to claim Adivasi stake in historical and contemporary social, cultural, and literary spaces and as peoples.