Mental Health Support Foundation
Motivated by his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder, Vijay Nallawala founded Bipolar India, a peer support network, in May 2013 to raise awareness during a period when there were few conversations about mental health. The Foundation provides a diverse model and peer-led psychosocial support to assist individuals with mental health conditions in their journey toward recovery. Later, the organisation expanded its services beyond bipolar disorder to include help for people with various mental illnesses as well as family carers. It started as a web platform and grew into a peer support community organically, with its Mumbai chapter leading the way. The group is linked virtually through the Telegram App, which serves as a safe area for peers to express themselves, in addition to offline engagements. The Organisation has also intervened during mental health emergencies. At present, it has chapters throughout the country's major cities, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Delhi-NCR.
Work with MHI
In India, the Disability inclusion work has mostly revolved around visible disabilities, and invisible disabilities such as mental illness and neurodivergence have not gotten enough attention. Due to the lack of awareness and accommodations among workplaces, PwMIs have faced difficulties in accessing job opportunities and then retaining employment due to the challenges posed by both their mental health condition and their work environment. Only a handful of organisations pan-India have been working on this issue. The Mental Health Support Foundation (MHSF) believes that recovering from any mental health condition is incomplete without full social integration. In this sense, having the means to support oneself is key to the rehabilitation process. It is also an economic necessity and a fundamental right.
MHI is funding MHSF’s initiative titled ‘Let’s Walk Together’, which will be working on this gap. Let's Walk Together was launched in August 2021 by MHSF to establish connections between organisations and individuals with mental health conditions who seek livelihoods in the form of jobs, freelance work or project-based consulting opportunities. The project’s vision is to create equal opportunities for persons with mental illness (PWMIs). Peer mentors will guide the PwMIs to find placements via various collaborations of the organisation with HR firms and other stakeholders in the livelihood sector to create an inclusive environment for Persons with Mental Illness. Several tie-ups are already in place with other organisations working on disability inclusion.
Find out more about MHSF here.