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Biography

Simon Wessely is a psychiatrist and epidemiologist. He started his psychiatry training at the Maudsley in 1984, and joined King’s College School of Medicine, as it was then called in 1991. He has been at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King’s College London, ever since.

He did pre-clinical at Trinity Hall Cambridge, with a BA in History of Art, and then BM BCH at University College Oxford. His Masters and Doctorate are in epidemiology.

He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists and Academy of Medical Sciences. In 2021 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).

His is the first ever Regius Chair to be appointed at KCL, and the first Regius Chair of Psychiatry in this country. He established the King’s Centre for Military Health Research in 1996, and remains the Co-director, and since 2013 has been the Director of the PHE NIHR Health Protection Unit for Emergency Response and Preparedness, which has been very active during the COVID-19 crisis.

He is a Past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal Society of Medicine. Between 2017 -19 he led the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, which paved the way for new legislation in 2022.

As of Jan 2021 he has 850 professional publications,. >41,000 citations: H index 100 (Scopus), 138 (Google).

Research interests

His main areas of research have been in unexplained symptoms/syndromes, military health, epidemiology, clinical trials and how populations and people react to adversity.

He also has a great interest in interdisciplinary work, and has published with legal academics, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and others.

Teaching

Military health, public health, behavioural science, psychiatry.

Expertise and public engagement

At the start of his career SW was a regular columnist for the Times, and continue to write/review for various publications, mainly on improving public knowledge and interest in mental health and illness, but also on many other topics around science, medicine and culture.

Since 2014 as well as 20+ articles in the print media, he has appeared on Any Questions, Start the Week, Economist Summit, Spectator, Imperial War Museum, National Army Museum, Life Scientific, Private Passions, Science Museum, Desert Island Discs, regular on Today (over a dozen appearances), 5Live, Sky, PM (over a dozen appearances), WATO, CNN, ITN and more. He has appeared in numerous documentaries, especially around mental health but also history (King George, shell shock, WW 1 anniversary, Rudolf Hess, Young Hitler) , been a regular at literary and science festivals (Hay, Where the Light Gets In, Cheltenham (Literary and Science), Edinburgh, Scarborough and many others). He spoke on mental health at the opening of the Chelsea Flower Show, regularly speak before/after theatre productions, usually around mental health/history (Barbican, Old and Young Vic, National Army Museum, National, Southwark Playhouse, Trafalgar Studios etc), and worked with opera and theatre companies on new productions of The Madness of King George, The Caretaker, Our Ajax, a new opera on shell shock and others.

He has been profiled in Telegraph, Guardian, NS, Cosmo, Lancet, BMJ, the subject of a supportive Times leader, & even won an IQ2 debate against Will Self. In 2017 his appearance on The Life Scientific made "Pick of the Week" and was rated by Head of BBC Radio as "one of the best".

Finally, in 2021 he appeared on Desert Island Discs.