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I had a first academic career in sociolinguistics, social psychology, anthropology and feminist studies first as a researcher and then as a lecturer. I have also used mental health services all my adult life and the distress associated with this put an end to that career in 1986. For 10 years I ‘lived in the community’, but importantly became involved in the English user / survivor movement. Then in 1996 these two identities – as user / survivor and as researcher – came together as a new career in ‘user-led research’. I started at an NGO that was tangentially part of King’s in 1996 developing a peer-led model of monitoring mental health services. I came to the Institute of Psychiatry in 2001 and much to my surprise ended up as Professor of User-Led Research 12 years later. 

My interests range from the very local to toe global but focussing always on the development of new knowledge and forms of support from users / survivors and persons with psychosocial disabilities themselves. And indeed now go beyond mental health. I am not a believer in the privileging of method with its associated ‘hierarchies’ and believe attention must be paid to underlying concepts. I am particularly influenced by critical theory and issues of intersecting marginalisation. Although I have degrees in psychology, social psychology and cultural studies, I would not name one single discipline as my ‘home’.  

Research Interests: 

  • Knowledge and research produced by people who use / survive mental health services or with psychosocial disabilities 
  •  Social and structural determinants of mental distress 
  • How do people ‘live’ the experience of distress and other conditions when not in direct contact with statutory services 
  • Coercion, compulsion and other means of supporting people in extreme distress. 


  • User perspectives on Global Mental Health 
  • Qualitative Research 
  • Engagement, Involvement and Public-Led Research and Action