Meet the commissioners

  • Professor Sir Robin Murray (Chair) – Professor of Psychiatric Research, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London
  • Terry Bowyer – Lived experience of mental illness, campaigner and activist
  • Dr Alison Brabban -Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Clare Gerada – Chair of Council, Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Paul Jenkins – Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness
  • Professor Martin Knapp – Professor of Social Policy, London School of Economics
  • Jeremy Laurance – Health Editor, The Independent
  • Liz Meek – Chair of Centre for London and mental health carer
  • Jonathan Phillips – Former Director of Adult Social Services, Calderdale Council
  • Dr Shubulade Smith – Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London
  • Yvonne Stewart–Williams – Lived experience of mental illness, campaigner and activist
  • Professor David Taylor – Director of Pharmacy and Pathology, Kings College London
  • Neil Carr OBE FRCN – Chief Executive of South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Vanessa Pinfold (Secretariat) – Freelance researcher, Rethink Mental illness


More information about some of the members

Professor Sir Robin Murray – Chair

Robin Murray is Professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry, and indeed has spent most of his working life there apart from one year at NIMH in the USA: fortunately the latter did not do him too much harm. His particular interest is in understanding the causes of psychosis, and he and his colleagues have contributed to the understanding that environmental factors such as obstetric events, heavy cannabis use and migration increase the risk of developing schizophrenia-like psychoses. He is also involved in testing new treatments for psychotic illnesses, and cares for people with psychosis at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. According to ISI ScienceWatch, he is the second most frequently cited psychiatrist outside the USA; he has supervised 52 PhDs and 35 of his students have become professors. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2010 and received a knighthood in 2011.

Terry Bowyer

Terry Bowyer has a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and has lived with his condition since 1998. He has been in recovery for the last 5 years and this has enabled him to do lots of involvement work in mental health. For Rethink Mental illness he has worked in research, activism, campaigning, fundraising, governance, and recently spent a year piloting the Peer Support Worker staff role. He has learnt a lot about the route to wellness and believes passionately in sharing knowledge and experiences to further our collective understanding of mental illness and the process of recovery.

Dr Alison Brabben

Alison works a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead in the Early Intervention in Psychosis service in Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. Much of her work concerns improving implementation of psychological therapies for psychosis.  Having been involved in the development of the NICE Schizophrenia guideline she is now working as the National Advisor for Severe Mental Illness for the IAPT programme (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies). Alison is currently involved in a research trial evaluating the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for service users refusing antipsychotic medication.

Dr Clare Gerada

Dr Clare Gerada is the first female Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in 50 years. Clare’s father  Dr Anthony Gerada arrived in the UK in 1964 and worked as a singlehanded, then dual handed GP in Peterborough. Clare vividly remembers accompanying him on home visits and being inspired by his tremendous commitment to medicine and general practice. He taught her that to be a good GP you have to be a good listener and to give something back to your community. Clare studied medicine at University College London, qualifying in 1982, then psychiatry and followed her father’s foot steps and became a general practitioner in South London, where she has stayed ever since. Her training in psychiatry led her to a life-long interest in managing drug users. Over the years, Clare has held a number of local and national leadership positions, including Director of Primary Care for the National Clinical Governance Team and Senior Medical Advisor to the Department of Health.  In 2008, she won the contract to run the Practitioner Health Programme which is a pioneering programme providing confidential services to doctors and dentists with mental health or addiction problems. Clare was awarded an MBE in the Millennium Birthday Honours for services to medicine and substance misuse.

Paul Jenkins

Paul Jenkins is Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness, the leading national mental health membership charity, working to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover a better quality of life. We aim to make a practical and positive difference by providing hope and empowerment through effective services and support to all those who need us. We campaign for better services and are partners in “Time to Change” the national programme to challenge stigma and discrimination in the area of mental health. Paul, born in 1963, was previously Director of Service Development for NHS Direct.    He has also previously been involved in the implementation of a number of other major national government initiatives including the Next Steps Programme and the 1993 Community Care Reforms.  He has an MBA from Manchester Business School and was awarded an OBE in 2002 for his role in setting up NHS Direct. He is a member of the Carers’ Standing Commission.

Professor Martin Knapp

Martin Knapp is an experienced researcher working in health and social care policy and practice. He works at both the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and King’s College London (KCL). At LSE, Martin is Professor of Social Policy and directs two research centres: the Personal Social Services Research Unit (since 1996) and LSE Health (since 2011). At KCL, he is Professor of Health Economics, in the Centre for the Economics of Mental Health, which he established in 1993. Martin has been director of the School for Social Care Research since 2009, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) in England.

Liz Meek

Liz Meek chairs a new London think-tank –the Centre for London- and is on the board of Sanctuary housing association and Birkbeck College.  Until recently Liz was a senior civil servant based in the North West and before that led the team which created the Greater London Authority.

Her career has centred on tackling urban regeneration, combating social exclusion, youth crime and worklessness. Liz has direct experience of a family member with schizophrenia and is interested in improving services for those with the condition and those who love them.

Jonathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips retired in July 2011 from Calderdale Council as Director of Adult Social Services and from chairing the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Mental Health Network. His interest in mental health goes back to hisfirst  qualified social work job, which was in a psychiatric hospital. When working for the Social Services Inspectorate Jonathan took a leading role in the implementation of the Mental Health National Service Framework – exciting times as mental health services had political impetus. More recently he has been wrestling with how to maintain integrated health and social care services in the face of new funding arrangements.

Jeremy Laurance

Jeremy Laurance has been Health Editor of The Independent since 1997. He previously worked for The Times, The Sunday Times and the Sunday Correspendent and has won a number of journalism awards.

He is the author of “Pure Madness: how fear drives the mental health system”, Routledge, 2003.


Dr Shubulade Smith

Shubulade Smith is a consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London. She has 19 years’ experience working with people with psychotic illness.  She has special interests in the treatment of psychosis; mental health in women and black and minority ethnic users, managing challenging behaviour and physical health in serious mental illness (SMI).  She became a BMA pioneer for her “One-stop Shop Clinic”, providing medication and physical health review in SMI.  Her unit was recently shortlisted for the Psychiatric Team of the Year awards.

Yvonne Stewart-Williams

“My name is Yvonne Stewart-Williams. I am a black lesbian single mother with a Schizo-Affective disorder and Erotomania diagnosis. My mother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia during my childhood and I work full time with Complex Needs and Mental illness.

I would like the Commission to achieve greater knowledge for the wider public to reduce stigma and discrimination for those persons diagnosed with Schizophrenia and their loved ones.

Life beyond the Schizophrenia label can be worthwhile, more often than not. Please help to stop the misunderstanding, discrimination and stigma.”

Professor David Taylor

David Taylor is Director of Pharmacy and Pathology at theMaudsley Hospital, Professor of Psychopharmacology at King’s College, London and Honorary Professor at theInstitute of Psychiatry.  David is also the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology and Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences in King’s Health Partners.  He has previously been President of theCollege of Mental Health Pharmacists and Chairman of the UK Psychiatric Pharmacy Group. David has published around 200 research and review papers. His interests include naturalistic outcome studies, pharmacokinetics and pharmacoeconomics.  He has also written or edited several books including Schizophrenia in Focus, The Use of Drugs in Psychiatry and Case Studies in Psychopharmacology. He has been the lead author of the Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines since their inception in 1993.  The Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines have sold over 150,000 copies and been translated into seven languages.

Neil Carr OBE FRCN

Neil Carr  is Chief Executive of South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.  A nurse by background, his driving passion is the provision of high quality mental health services, service user and carer engagement and empowering clinicians through strategic and transformational leadership. He was instrumental in delivering one of the first Mental Health Foundation Trusts and in 2007 led the first successful acquisition leading to the newly formed organisation being named as “Foundation Trust of the Year”. He is also a keen advocate of innovative partnerships. Recent examples include working in partnership with the Ministry of Defence to develop a shared care model of care across the MOD and NHS to improve the mental health and wellbeing of military personnel.  In 2005 he received an OBE for his services to healthcare and nursing and in 2008 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his contribution to leadership in nursing and health care. In April 2010 he was also awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing in recognition of an exceptional contribution to nurse leadership.

Vanessa Pinfold

Vanessa is an experienced mental health researcher with a Ph. D from University of Nottingham. She worked at Kings College London, Institute of Psychiatry for 5 years before moving to Rethink Mental illness to establish a research function within the charity. Vanessa has published research in the areas of stigma and discrimination, families and carers and social inclusion. She is currnetly working as a freelance research fellow and leads a NIHR funded research study on community health networks for people with severe mental illness. She has been working a day a week coordinating the Schizophrenia Commission for the past year. Vanessa is also a trsutee of The McPin Foundation a small family charity that promotes user focussed mental health research.