Jayasree Kalathil, PhD
Jayasree has encountered mental health services in India and in the UK. Most of her adult life was spent negotiating five different psychiatric diagnoses, western medicine, faith and religious healing. The net result of this was that she developed a political identity as a survivor, with strong views on healing and recovery, and what it means to remain well.
After moving to the UK in 2003, Jayasree worked with the Mental Health Media and the Centre for Mental Health in London, and volunteered with Mind and the National Self-Harm Network. It was her involvement with the user/survivor movement and the anti-racism movement that led her to set up Survivor Research.
Trained in literary/cultural studies, with a Ph.D. from EFL University, Hyderabad, India, Jayasree’s academic work on madness and mental health started with an invitation to present a paper at the first national seminar on women and mental health in India in 1997. This work looked at women’s writing and how they used narrative space to talk about their distress. Her field work with women with lived experience of mental distress in Pune consolidated her interest in personal narratives of madness and distress and their political potential in rethinking mental health and psychiatric services. Her subsequent work focused on media and cultural representations of madness, family and gender issues, and the rights of people who have been diagnosed mad.
Before moving to the UK, Jayasree worked with Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Hyderabad, and Bapu Trust, Pune, where she was the founding editor of aaina, India’s first mental health advocacy newsletter. She has served as the interim project manager of Catch-a-Fiya, a network for service users and survivors from BME communities, and of the National BME Mental Health Advocacy Project, both hosted by the Afiya Trust. She continues to work closely with the National Survivor User Network.
Jayasree was the editor of Open Mind, the mental health magazine published by Mind from 2010-2012 and Co-Chair of the Social Perspectives Network from 2009-2012. She has served on several advisory panels and steering groups including the Expert Reference Group set up by the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health to produce commissioning guidance for BME services.
Jayasree received the Janice Sinson Research Prize from the Mental Health Foundation in 2011 for her work on the Recovery and Resilience project.
Jayasree is also a writer and translator. She is the author of The Sackclothman, a children’s book that has been translated into Malayalam, Telugu, and Hindi. Her translation of S Hareesh’s Moustache won the JCB Prize for Literature in 2020. In 2019, she received the Crossword Book Jury Award for Indian Language Translation for her translation of N Prabhakaran’s novellas, Diary of a Malayali Madman. This book was also longlisted for the 2020 Mathrubhumi Book of the Year Award.