Dr. Sudarshan R Kottai
BSc Psychology (2008) University of Calicut
MSc Applied Psychology (2010) Pondicherry University
PG Diploma in Industrial Psychology (2010) Pondicherry University
BA Public Administration (2011) IGNOU
M. Phil Clinical Psychology (2013) LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health/ Gauhati University
PhD Psychology (2020) IIT Hyderabad
Certificate in Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice (2022) Mariwala Health Initiative
Informed by the politics, history and philosophy of psy disciplines, Dr Sudarshan examines the complexities and ambiguities in the context of increasing metricalisation, technocratisation, globalization and scientifisation of mental health care all taking inter and multidisciplinary perspectives. He grapples with questions of philosophical interest in mental health care like why mainstream mental health academia/research/ practice primarily engage in “mirroring” the world rather than in “world-making”.
Dr Sudarshan encourages research broadly in the following areas:
- Mental health interventions with minority/marginalised population
- Mental health in the context of disabilities
- Sexuality, gender and relationship diversities
- Social disadvantage
- Public policy in (mental) health care
- Public Health Ethics
- Philosophy of psychiatry
- Qualitative research
Dr Sudarshan R Kottai trained as a clinical psychologist at Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi Regional Institute of Mental Health, Tezpur, an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (2011-2013) where he continued working as a clinical psychologist post-M.Phil Clinical Psychology for five months. In 2014, he quit the job to join Ph.D programme at the Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad. Sudarshan’s doctoral research explored everyday narratives and practices of mental health care and chronicity which are constructed by official discourses of state and bio-medicine. His thesis was announced in the journal Disability and Society and also earned the Research Appreciation Award from IIT Hyderabad in 2019. His book titled Mental health and critical community care: Pestilent encounters from India will be published by Routledge in 2022.
He has been a reviewer for the journals Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Journal of Children’s Services, Indian Journal of Social Work, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, International Journal of Academic Medicine , Psychological Studies, Studies of Transition States and Societies, Medicine Access @ Point of Care and International Journal of Social Research Methodology. He was invited to speak at Tata Institute of Social Sciences Hyderabad, Mc Gill University Canada, Alternative Law Forum Bengaluru, Institute of Public Health Bengaluru among others.
In 2022, he was offered the Public Health Ethics Writeshop Fellowship by Rural Women’s Social Education Centre (RUWSEC), Chennai to write on the role of state and non-state actors in mental health services for LGBTQIA+ people in India from a public health ethics perspective in Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. In 2021, he was selected by American Institute of Indian Studies for the Dissertation to Book Workshop as part of the Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Dr Sudarshan is currently associated with Rereeti (an NGO working on inclusive public space in Bangalore) as a consultant for a project in making recommendations on inclusivity for a museum in Bengaluru.
Travelling, farming and spending time with pet animals and other non-humans on his natural farmland in Western Ghats in Kerala are sources of immense contemplation for him.
Dr Sudarshan R Kottai has worked in behaviour therapy unit, adult psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and psychometry units at LGBRIMH Tezpur. He has given lectures to visiting post-graduate students from Dibrugarh University and also supervised M.Phil clinical psychology trainees in the institute in addition to liasoning with psychiatric nursing, psychiatric social work and psychiatry departments in carrying out in-patient and out-patient clinical services. He specialises in ethics and political economy of psychological services with special reference to marginalised sections. He employs queer affirmative and social justice approaches in mental health services.
Dr Sudarshan worked at the Department of Psychology in JAIN (Deemed to be) University and CHRIST (Deemed to be University) both in Bengaluru from 2020 to 2022 before joining Jindal School of Psychology and Counselling. He has taught Psychodiagnostics Laboratory, Community service, History and Philosophy of Clinical Psychology and Research Proposal [for MSc Clinical Psychology], Psychological Research Methods and Assessments [for BA Psychology, Sociology, English], Psychological Assessment, Social and Cultural Foundations of Counselling [for MSc Counselling Psychology], Clinical and Counselling Skills in Health care [for MSc Psycho-oncology/MSc Health and Wellbeing] and Individual and Social Development across the Lifespan: Theory and Methods (for MSc Neuropsychology) at CHRIST (Deemed to be University) and Psychopathology, Community Mental Health, Biological Psychology (for MSc Clinical Psychology) and Counselling Skills Lab (for PG Diploma Counselling and Sports Psychology) at JAIN (Deemed to be) University.
He was also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University, Ahmedabad (August-2021-December 2021) where he taught Health Psychology for undergraduate students.
● Mental health and critical community care: Pestilent encounters from India (currently drafting-to be published by Routledge in 2022)
- Kottai, S.R. (2022). Book review of Hayfield, Nikki, Bisexual and pansexual identities: Exploring and challenging invisibility and invalidation. Routledge, 2020.131 pp.; ISBN978-1-138-61377-5, Feminism and Psychology (in press).
- Kottai, S. R. & Ranganathan, S (2021). A mental health epidemic? Critical questions on the National Mental Health Survey. Economic and Political Weekly, 57 (3), 19-24.
- Kottai. S.R. (2021). Farmers’ protests, death by suicides and mental health systems in India: Critical questions. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 23 (2). DOI: 10.1891/EHPP-2021-0004.
- Kottai. S.R. (2021). LGBTQIA+ rights, mental health systems and curative violence in India: Call for metanoia. Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. DOI:10.20529/IJME.2021.090
- Kottai, S. R..(2021). Review of Environmental Politics by Elizabeth DeSombre, Environment and Society, 2 (1). https://doi.org/10.3167/ares.2021.120114
- Kottai, S.R. (2021). Book review of Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work, and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala. Contemporary South Asia. https://doi.org/10.1080/09584935.2021.1884370
- Kottai, S. R. (2020). On the cusp of ‘modernity’: Ayurveda’s tryst with ‘development’ in Nepal. Book review of Mary Cameron, 2019, Three Fruits: Nepali Ayurvedic Doctors on Health, Nature, and Social Change. Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 264 ISBN 978-1-4985-9423- Anthropology News.
- Kottai, S. R.(2020). Migrant workers and the politics of mental health. Economic and Political Weekly, 55 (31).
- Kottai, S.R. & Ranganathan, S. (2020). Task-shifting in community mental health in Kerala: Tensions and ruptures. Medical Anthropology: Cross-cultural studies in health and illness. DOI: 10.1080/01459740.2020.1722122
- Kottai, S.R. & Ranganathan, S. (2019). Fractured narratives of psy disciplines and the LGBTQIA+ rights movement in India: A critical examination. Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, 4 (2). DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2019.009
- Kottai, S. R. (2018). How Kerala’s poor tribals are being branded as mentally ill. Economic and Political Weekly Engage, 53(24).
- Kottai, S. R. & Ranganathan, S. (2018). Reimagining Schizophrenia: New Voices from the Margins [Book review]. Economic & Political Weekly, LIII (4), 31-34.
- Kottai, S.R. & Ranganathan, S. (2017). Book review of Eating Drugs: Psychopharmaceutical Pluralism in India. Psychology and Developing Societies, 29(2), 301–305.
- Das, B., Ghosh, S. & Kottai, S. (2016). Practice of Family therapy in a heteronormative society of India from a Queer theory perspective, Open Journal of Psychiatry and Allied Sciences.
- Kottai, S.R. & Sia, S. (2013). Inculcating democratic policing in India: A psychological perspective. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(4), 580-583.
- Kottai, S. R. (2012). Effectiveness of multiple psychotherapeutic interventions in the treatment of adjustment disorder with prolonged depressive reaction in a teenage girl. Indian Journal of Community Psychology, 1(8), 100-112.
- Kottai, S. & Ranganathan, S (2021). “When ‘care’ leads to ‘chronicity’: Exploring the changing contours of care of homeless people living on the streets in India”. In Montesi, Laura and Melania, Calestani, (eds). “Managing chronicity in unequal States: ethnographic perspectives on caring”. London: UCL Press.
- Kottai, S. “Marginality, alterity and mental health in India: A critical analysis”. In Sheshadri, S (Ed.) “Reaching Out: Towards a relevant response to Mental Health”. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan. (Under review)
- Kottai. S (2020). Legal capacity for persons with psychosocial disabilities: Reclaiming personhood through UNCRPD. #WHATWENEED CAMPAIGN, TCI Global.
- Kottai. S (2020). From amelioration to transformation: Hopes for mental health in human rights-based systems. #WHATWENEED CAMPAIGN, TCI Global.
- Kottai, S (2019) Sitting on the Fence, Playing to the Gallery of Psychiatry: Clinical Psychology disrupted. Mad in Asia Pacific. https://madinasia.org/2019/07/sitting- on- the-fence-playing-to-the-gallery-of-psychiatry-clinical-psychology-disrupted/
- Kottai, S. & Ranganathan, S (2017). Interrupting caregiving, inviting distress- sharing: Narratives of care from people living on the streets, Cafe Dissensus. https://cafedissensus.com/2017/09/16/interrupting-caregiving-inviting-distress- sharing-narratives-of-care-from-people-living-on-the-streets/
- Kottai, S. (2020). Tezpur: A city with a mind of its own. Voice of margin
- Kottai, S. (2015). Mental health policy in India: Unpacking the ‘Right to mental health care’, Medico friend circle bulletin, No. 365-366, March-October 2015, 22- 24.
- New Mental Health Policy: Is it critical? The Economist, November 2, 2014. https://qrius.com/new-mental-health-policy-is-it-critical/
- Kottai, S. (2014). Homesickness and Tuberculosis: Crossing Lines and Inventing the Psychiatric Connection, The Indian Economist. http://qrius.com/homesickness-and- tuberculosis-crossing-lines-and-inventing-the-psychiatric-connection
- Doctoral thesis announcement, “Interrogating care, chronicity and expansion of patienthood: An ethnography of community mental health programmes in contemporary India”, Disability and Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2020.1787745
Media interview coverage
- Lilly, S. (2022). Psychiatry and Psychology Fail in Response to Farmer Suicides in India. Mad in America. 21 January, 2022. https://www.madinamerica.com/2022/01/psychiatry-psychology-fail-response-farmer-suicides-india/
- Levin , B. (2022).Suicide, Indian Farmers, Indigenous North Americans… and the Shame of Shrinks. Mad in America. 14 January, 2022. https://www.madinamerica.com/2022/01/suicide-indian-farmers-indigenous-north-americans-shame-shrinks/
- Poyyail, S. (2021). Why the Mental Health Discourse in India Needs to Focus on Social Realities. 6 January 2021, Re-set. https://resetyoureveryday.com/mental-health-discourse-india- focus-social-realities/
- Cheng, C.P. (2020). How Mental Health Professionals Undermined LGBTQIA+ Rights in India. Mad in America. 27 February, 2020. https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/02/mental-health-professionals-undermined-lgbtqia-rights-india/
Awards & Recognitions
- Public Health Rights Writeshop Fellowship awarded by Rural Women’s Social Education Centre Chennai (2022)
- Selected for the Dissertation to Book Workshop as part of the Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison (2021)
- Research Appreciation Award, IIT Hyderabad (2019)
- First Rank in All India Entrance Examination to Professional M.Phil Clinical Psychology Course at LGBRIMH, Govt. of India (2011)
- Cleared National Eligibility Test (Psychology) conducted by the University Grants Commission (2011)
- First Prize in National level essay writing competition on The relevance of Gandhian thoughts in contemporary India” conducted by the Government of India (2001)
- Interrogating ‘care’, ‘chronicity’ and expansion of patienthood: Ethnographic encounters from community mental programmes in India, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Canada, 27 January 2022.
- ‘Task-shifting in community mental health in India: Some questions and challenges’ in the course titled Community-based mental health interventions: Critical perspectives and innovative approaches organised by the Division of Social and Cultural Psychiatry, McGill University, Canada, 08 April 2021
- ‘Mental health and migrant workers’, organized by Rural Development and Governance Programme, School of Livelihoods and Development, Tata Institute of Social Sciences Hyderabad as part of Grameen Lecture Series 2020-21, 11 September 2020
- Panellist at the webinar on ‘Managing Mental Health Care During and Post COVID-19 in India, Ramaiah Public Policy Centre, Bangaluru, 4 September 2020
- “When community care becomes community mental health: The disappearance of local voices in community mental health programmes in Kerala” presented at Institute of Public Health, Bangaluru, 31 January 2020.
- “When ‘care’ leads to ‘chronicity’: Exploring the changing contours of mental health ‘care’ of homeless people living on the streets in India” presented at Alternative Law Forum, Bangaluru, 22 April 2019.
- “Community mental health in contemporary India: Interrogating ‘care’, ‘chronicity’ and expansion of patienthood” presented at Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Patna, 20 December 2019.
Research Papers Presented
- “Mirroring” the world v/s “world-making”: Crisis in clinical psychology in India”, Afro-Asian Psychology Conference, 5-7 May 2022
- “Sex and sexuality in community mental India: The violence in ‘care’ and ‘cure'” in international workshop organized by the Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad & Centre for Writing and Pedagogy, Krea University, 27-28 April 2022.
- “When there are only ‘psychopharmaceuticals’ and ‘counselling’: COVID-19, migrant workers and the politics of mental health” in the Biennial Conference, American Anthropological Association, 6-10 April 2021.
- “Migrant workers’ crisis and the programmatic response of mental health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic: A critical appraisal” in the National Academy of Psychology Annual Conference organised by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Kanpur, 19-21 March 2021.
- “Mentally ill are like rusted knives, they will never be the same again”: Changing perspectives about care and chronicity in community mental health services in Kerala” in the National Academy of Psychology Annual Conference organised by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Kanpur, 19-21 March 2021.
- “When ‘care’ leads to ‘chronicity: Exploring the changing contours of care of homeless people living on the streets in Kolkata and Assam as a poster presentation in the seminar on The Performing Body: Conversations on Healing with Medical Humanities, organized by the Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad. (01-02, 2019).
- “The ‘global’ engulfs the ‘local’: Voices from community mental health organisations in Kerala, India” as a poster presentation in the 39th Annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Society and Culture (SSPC), at the Joan B Croc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego, California, USA. (19-21 April 2018)
- “Sugarcoating suffering: Excluded voices from community mental health clinics in Kerala” as an oral presentation in the 42nd National Annual Conference of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists organized by the Department of Clinical Psychology, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, Manipur. (24-27 February 2016)
- “Inculcating democratic policing in India: A need-based approach” as an oral presentation in International Youth Conference 2012 on Youth for Integral Humanism hosted by G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand. (12-13 January 2012)
- “India-Pakistan-Bangladesh relations in a psychological perspective” as a poster presentation at the Indian Science Congress hosted by KIIT University, Bhubaneswar (3- 7 January 2012)
- “Cultural parenting and ego-strength-A theoretical framework on Homosexuality” as a poster presentation at the Indian Science Congress hosted by SRM University, Chennai (3- 7 January 2011)
- “Psychological roots of criminal behaviour: A need-based interventional approach” as an oral presentation in the 37th National Annual Conference of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists organized by Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar (21-23 January 2011)
- “Effectiveness of multiple psychotherapeutic interventions in the treatment of adjustment disorder with prolonged depressive reaction in a teenage girl- A case study” as an oral presentation at the National Seminar on Current trends and challenges in Applied Psychology organized by the Department of Psychology, University of Calicut (14- 15 October 2010)
Professional affiliation and memberships
- Rehabilitation Professional as Clinical Psychologist, Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI-CRR No. A38243)
- Life member, National Academy of Psychology, India (2022 onwards)
- Life Member, Indian Science Congress Association (2012 onwards)