Our passionateand committed team

João Marçal-Grilo

Founding Director

The seeds for Jaya Mental Health where first planted when, after finishing his Geography degree in 1993, João backpacked across India and spent several months volunteering in a small hospital in Varanassi. There, he saw how common and debilitating mental illness is for the world’s most vulnerable, and how most of the time it is either misunderstood or left untreated.

Following this experience, João studied at King’s College London to become a mental health nurse. After working in inpatient and community settings for a number of years, João studied for a Masters degree in International Development.

Always passionate about fighting social and health inequalities around the world, João then worked for two years as a nurse consultant in Sri Lanka, before founding Jaya Mental Health in 2014.

Sharon Scott

Founding Director (Non-Executive)

Sharon currenty works as a Senior Palliative Care Nurse. Her career has been primarily focused on specialist palliative care, both in the UK and overseas. Sharon was instrumental in developing a palliative care service for people with advanced dementia and their carers at St Christopher’s Hospice in London. She also worked as Dementia Palliative Care Research Nurse for Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Unit, University College London, and as a Dementia Nurse Consultant in private dementia care.

Luvana Shrestha

Country Representative, Nepal

Luvana has excellent mental health, women and children, and human rights expertise. Before joining our team, she worked for a number of organisations focused on tackling issues faced by minority groups and disadvantaged people. These organisations include the UN World Food Programme and UN Woman.

At Jaya Mental Health, Luvana is the driving force behind all our activities in Nepal and a true ambassador for young, dynamic women in South Asia.

Dr Marjorie Gardner

Director of Education and Training

Marjorie has been with Jaya Mental Health from day one and has worked for over 30 years in mental health as a practising occupational therapist, manager and educator. She is particularly passionate about the benefits of occupational therapy for people with mental health problems.

One of Majorie’s career highlights is developing and leading the very first occupational therapy degree course in Sri Lanka. She is now working on a similar project for Nepal.

Rajani Bhandari

Nepal Clinical Psychologist

Rajani completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Tribhuwan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. Subsequently, she spent over 12 years teaching and offering counselling services to staff and students at the National Institute of Health Sciences, Stupa College, Kathmandu.

Rajani is one of Jaya Mental Health’s leading educators and plays a key role in the delivery of our psycho-social services in eastern Nepal.

Angelo Leo

Clinical Nurse Educator

Angelo is a trained nurse and inspiring educator with vast experience in mental health and dementia care, and especially in inpatient settings.

In addition to working with Jaya Mental Health, Angelo helps Canadian Red Cross International provide psychosocial support to people affected by major disasters around the world.

Sailesh Bhandari

General Nurse, Nepal Nursing Educator

Sailesh trained as a general nurse at the International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Later, he completed a Masters in Public Health and taught Leadership and Management in Nursing at the Everest School of Nursing in Nepal.

At Jaya Mental Health, Sailesh typically has a leading role in our nursing projects.

Lajja Dixit

Art Therapist

Lajja completed her Art degree from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London, and subsequently her Art Therapy training from the College of Educational and Clinical Art Therapy in Australia.

Lajja works at different hospitals and with various NGOs in Nepal, providing art therapy to men, women and children of all ages and with a wide spectrum of mental health and emotional issues. She is one of the very few qualified Art Therapists practicing in Nepal.

Tereza Nogueira

Child Psychotherapist

Tereza is a child psychotherapist and school counsellor with considerable experience working with children and adolescents. This includes spending several years working with street children in central Brazil, where she developed a strong interest in the social care and psychology of deprived children.

At Jaya Mental Health, Tereza is one of our child mental health programme leaders and the lead supervisor of staff who work with children and adolescents in Nepal.

Lucy Hiorns

Communications and Development Manager

Lucy joined the Jaya Mental Health team in 2019. Prior to this, she held a number of fundraising and communications roles with a variety of big and small charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support and The British Lung Foundation.

Vera Capoulas

Web Designer and IT extraordinaire

Vera completed her studies in graphic design in Lisbon, Portugal. She has since worked for an impressive array of advertising agencies that specialise in web design, branding and illustration.

Sagoon K.C

Program Manager

Sagoon completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Tribhuwan University, Kirtipur, in 2011. Since then, she has been working in the field of mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. She has extensive experience in disability inclusion and disaster risk reduction, as well as of working at community grassroot levels.

Sagoon is an engaging trainer who helps nurses and others feeling confident and secure in their professional role.

Susmita Bogati

Program Officer

Susmita is a mental health nurse and a psychosocial counsellor. She completed her Masters in Counselling Psychology from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. Susmita also works as a radio and video presenter and is a keen advocate for nurse’s rights and well-being.

At present Susmita leads our programme “Aafnai Thau, My safe space”, designed to support Nepalese nurses with their personal and professional development needs.

Our trustees

Jaya Mental Health is governed by a board of trustee, who meet regularly to discuss the charity’s strategic direction.

Jo James

Jo is a registered general nurse with an MSc in Medical Anthropology. Throughout her career, she has championed the development of excellent nursing care through education, understanding and professional accountability.

Lekamge NevilleDe Silva

Neville, who is originally from Sri Lanka, is a qualified and accredited mindfulness teacher trainer, and is actively involved in mindfulness research around the world. He currently works as a holistic therapist at Breathworks UK, and previously worked as a mental health professional in the NHS for many years.

Brian Martin OBE

Brian spent 35 years as an officer in the Parachute Regiment of the British Army. After retiring from the Army, he has held a number of positions at Christian Aid, including the manager of its Humanitarian Division Programmes Unit for Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Caribbean.

Gayathri Santhi-McBain

Gayathri studied law in the UK, before working in journalism and later recruitment consultancy. Her passion for social justice and empowering women has led to her getting involved with a range of human rights groups and NGOs in Malaysia, Singapore and the UK. 

Bruno Lafleur

Bruno is the finance director at a private healthcare company that specialises in care and support for people with dementia. He initially qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young before moving into private equity at UBS in London and Triago in Paris.