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Mental health, ethics and law

About us

Dr Gareth Owen leads the Mental Health, Ethics and Law research group in the Department of Psychological Medicine.

The group is concerned with problems which psychiatry, ethics and law have in common and with devising interdisciplinary strategies to research them. They have a strong cross-school link with the Dickson Poon School of Law and innovate in:

  1. Interdisciplinary research
  2. Research led teaching
  3. Policy engagement
  4. Public and Patient Involvement (PPI).


Gareth Owen

Gareth OwenGareth is Clinical Senior Lecturer at the IoPPN and Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow. His work has focused on decision-making capacity, spanning theoretical to practical issues. As a consultant psychiatrist Gareth works in a home treatment team in Lambeth.

He is an editor with Simon Wessely and Robin Murray of the Maudsley Handbook of Practical Psychiatry and CEO of the Maudsley Philosophy Group Trust. Find out more

Matthew Hotopf 

Matthew HotopfMatthew is Professor of General Hospital Psychiatry and Director of the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre.

He has long-standing interests in decision-making capacity with research including decision-making capacity in the general hospital compared with the psychiatric hospital, and capacity to consent to biomedical research.

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Genevra Richardson

Genevra RichardsonGenevra has been involved in research at the interface between law, mental  health and ethics for many years and she has worked closely with colleagues from the IoPPN.

She has a growing interest in the role of human rights in the provision of mental health care in low income countries.

She has been actively involved in policy formulation and recently chaired the Expert Committee advising ministers in England

and Wales on the reform of the Mental Health Act. Find out more

Jill Craigie

Jill CraigieJill is a Lecturer in Medical Ethics in the Dickson Poon School of Law. Drawing on a background in neuroscience and philosophical moral psychology, much of her work is in the field of mental health, ethics and law.

Her current research interests particularly concern the proper relationship between mental capacities and legal rights and responsibilities, and the interplay between evaluative and rational considerations in this area. Find out more

Tania Gergel

TL Gergel photo

Tania is a Wellcome Trust Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Mental Health and Justice research project, where her work focuses on advance directives in bipolar disorder, as well as working with the McPin Foundation to coordinate patient and public involvement. 

Although Tania’s academic background was in ancient philosophy, her research now focuses on mental health, ethics and law, with areas of interest including: advance decision-making and decision making-capacity; the ethics of coercion and leverage within psychiatry; personhood and mental disorder; and stigma.

She is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s ECTAS Committee (ECT Accreditation Service), was in the steering group for the charity MQ’s Depression Priority Setting Partnership and on the external advisory board of the MHRN (the Mental Health Research Network).

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Alex Ruck-Keene

ARK-140x180Alex Ruck Keene is an experienced barrister, writer and educator. His practice (at 39 Essex Chambers) is focused on mental capacity law (broadly defined).  He has appeared in cases involving the Mental Capacity Act 2005 at all levels up to and including the Supreme Court. He also writes extensively in the field, editing and contributing to leading textbooks and (amongst many other publications) the 39 Essex Chambers Mental Capacity Law Newsletter, the ‘bible’ for solicitors (and others) working in the area.

He is the creator of the website, providing resources and expert commentary on some of the most difficult mental capacity issues.

Alex is an Honorary Research Lecturer at the University of Manchester and a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at King’s College London, working on the collaborative Mental Health and Justice project for the period 2017-2022.  He spent from November 2016 to March 2017 on secondment to the Law Commission as a consultant to their Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty Project.

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Lucy Stephenson

lucy-stephenson-140x180Lucy is an SpR in General Adult Psychiatry and Medical Psychotherapy on the South London and the Maudsley Training Scheme. She has a background in Philosophy of Psychiatry and is currently a Clinical Research Associate with the Mental Health and Justice project.

She is completing a PhD exploring the use of self binding directives in Bipolar with a particular focus on women in the perinatal period. Philosophical interests include akrasia and continuity of the self over time. Clinical interests include perinatal psychiatry and psychotherapy. 

Dr Nuala Kane

nuala-kane-140x180Nuala is a CT3 Psychiatry on the Maudsley Training Programme and a Clinical Research Associate with the Mental Health and Justice project. She has a background in philosophy of psychiatry and clinical interests in liaison and older adult psychiatry. She is a Mental Health Research UK MD(res) scholar and her doctoral project explores the role of the assessed person’s beliefs and values in contested and difficult capacity assessments.


Larry Rifkin

Larry is a senior visiting lecturer at King's, and a Consultant Psychiatrist in the Lambeth Home Treatment Team, providing intensive assessment, support and treatment for adults in Lambeth. The multidisciplinary team provides an alternative to hospital admission for people experiencing acute mental health crises and issues of risk management, capacity, autonomy and mental health law are central to the team’s clinical practice. 


Michalis Kyratsous

Michalis is a specialist registrar in South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and an MD (Res) student at the IoPPN. He has been awarded the annual Maudsley Philosophy Group award. His research explores aspects of psychopathology in borderline personality disorder, focusing on the construct of unstable sense of self. This involves mapping out some of its cognitive components, such as episodic memory, mental time travel and self-control, and addressing relevant philosophical and ethical issues, such as personal identity and decision-making capacities.

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