Exercising accountability as a funder
During the lockdown, we worked with our partners to identify intervention areas that needed additional funding, technology upgrades and reduced the time for funding approvals. We sent our first communication in this regard on 17th March 2020, well before the lockdown. We were in constant touch with our partners so that we could be more responsive to their needs. We also reached out to other donors, requesting them to facilitate similar unconditional support to their grantee organizations. We circulated an email template that contained directives that funders could use in their communications with their grantees.
While routine program funding to non-profits reduced, because of COVID relief and donations to the PM Cares Fund, MHI ensured that its disbursements and grantmaking continued through the pandemic. In the spirit of being accountable to the communities we work with, we modified some of our practices such as site visits and approved grants and onboarded 8 new partners. We believe the onus is on us and other grant-making or CSR organisations to support civil society to survive these difficult times.
We ran our flagship Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice (QACP) certificate course online for the first time in January 2021. It was attended by 57 mental health practitioners from organizations such as Pause for Perspective, The Thought Co., Kashmir Lifeline, iCall and Violet Hues and 24 students from Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Indore and Srinagar. We’re hopeful and inspired by QACP alumni Vidya Dinakaran as the court appointed Mental Health Practitioner to petitioners and families involved in a matter involving a same sex couple in the Madras High Court. Justice N Anand Ventakesh took a stand and said he wants to break his preconceived notions. This is an affirmation for queer rights and mental health in the courts of law! Given MHI’s work on gender and sexuality, we added a whole new section on QACP on our website with a directory of resources, which includes a list of queer-affirmative mental health practitioners, podcasts, videos and articles relating to queer issues and isolation in the pandemic.