Mariwala Health Initiative launched Resource Book
Mr. Harsh Mariwala developed and is the personal philanthropist behind the Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI). MHI, a group that promotes innovative approaches to mental health and provides grants for capacity building, has a strong emphasis on making mental health services available to underserved individuals and communities. MHI has published Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice (QACP), a manual for mental health professionals, as a significant step toward inclusivity. The goal of the book is to aid mental health professionals in recognizing and treating the particular stressors that LGBTQIA+ people experience as they negotiate difficulties in institutional, social, and individual settings.
“Globally, there is significant debate on varied genders and sexualities,” stated Mr. Harsh Mariwala, founder of the Mariwala Health Initiative and chairman of Marico Ltd., in reference to the significance of adopting a queer lens in mental health counselling. Both in private settings and at business, society needs to acknowledge and affirm this. As a result, in order to undertake queer affirmative counselling, mental health practitioners will also need to learn new knowledge and skill sets. No matter if we are a workplace or a single provider, we have the capacity to be a safe place. What is keeping us from creating safe and affirming mental health places and workspaces when you can move faster, more quickly, and better?
According to the Indian Psychiatric Society, homosexuality is a sexual variation rather than a mental disorder. However, pathologizing gay and trans identities has a long history and still rules the mental health industry in India. Even when services are LGBT-friendly, heteronormative standards are used to assess the mental health of queer people. The QACP Resource Book questions this viewpoint and works to pave the road for practices that go beyond gay-friendly services and toward queer affirming ones.
“The book is really comprehensive, providing a deeper understanding of sexuality and gender, bringing to light external sources of power such as cultural, psychological, and religious ideologies and how they are internalized,” said Dr. Dayal Mirchandani, MD, DPM, and Director of Behavioural Science Network, in reference to the structural issues that the QACP Resource Books provide insights on. The book (discusses) “the privileged position of persons who fit into the sociocultural ideals of ‘normality,’ as well as the detrimental impact of growing up in a sexually restrictive and homophobic culture.
Mariwala Health Initiative
A petition opposing conversion therapy was distributed by the QACP cohort on The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) 2019 and received 1200 MHP signatures. The QACP Resource Book not only establishes a queer viewpoint on mental health but also discusses structural violence and discrimination that queer and trans people must deal with.
The need for MHPs to learn affirmative counselling was highlighted by one of the co-authors, Dr. Shruti Chakravarty. She stated that LGBTIA+ people face discrimination from systems and institutions that force the suppression of their voices, expressions, and identities. People are forced to adhere to rigid notions of gender and sexuality by the heteronormative system, which also discriminates against those who do not fit it. The formal mental health curriculum reflect how widespread this socialization is and how destructive it is to LGBTQIA+ people.
The chance to unlearn heteronormativity in mental health practice exists with affirmative counselling. The Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice Resource book combines techniques and thoughts on how to be queer affirmative in practise with the lived experience of queer-trans people.