Mental health

RCN mental health representatives

The role of the RCN's Professional Lead for Mental Health works with the RCN Mental Health Forum Committee, RCN activists and clinical specialists.

The Professional Lead will often represent the RCN on national boards to ensure specific mental health nursing policy, practice and research expertise is appropriately profiled.  

Find out more about the RCN's Professional Lead for Mental Health, Catherine Gamble, the RCN's Mental Health Forum committee, RCN activists and clinical specialists here.

You can also access the RCN subject matter experts and clinical specialists terms of reference (ratified September 2019) here.

Catherine Gamble

Catherine Gamble

RCN Professional Lead for Mental Health and Head of Nursing Practice, Education and Research, South West London and St Georges Mental Health NHS Trust 

Catherine's role involves providing evidence for policy makers, commissioners and providers, whilst ensuring the RCN influences and supports the mental health nursing workforce to face new challenges in many specialist and diverse areas of nursing practice, research, education and management. Working across the UK, the role has a wide sphere of influence, covering a range of activities – namely supporting members, promoting professional networks and sharing good practice. Her NHS Trust role supports this activity as she is responsible for driving clinical innovation and evaluating nursing workforce development initiatives. Catherine is an Eileen Skellern laureate and Royal College of Nursing Mental Health Nurse of the Year award holder and Royal College of Psychiatrists Team winner. Catherine has broad experience in coproduction and professional development work. Her clinical expertise lies in working with families and those with psychosis; she has held various NHS roles in acute and community psychiatric services, has published extensively and is an elected member of the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network board. Catherine works for the RCN three days/week.

Tim Coupland

Tim Coupland

Clinical Representative for Parity of Esteem 

Tim is a registered mental health nurse with over 25 years’ experience of working in a variety of mental health care settings including community and inpatient services. In recent years, he has worked in senior nurse roles focusing on quality, governance & service development. Tim has been involved with the RCN for over 15 years, initially as a steward, then taking a more active role on staff side in his local NHS Trust. Between 2011-2013 he sat on RCN Council for the South West Region, England – this included work as part of the Professional Nurse Advisory Committee and Governance Committee. He has also previously sat on the Steering Committee for the RCN Mental Health Forum.

He currently works in a self-employed capacity providing training, coaching and consultancy to the NHS and Independent Sector. He is particularly interested in stakeholder work, organisational development and innovative service planning. 

He is passionate about promoting and focusing on the lived experience of those who use services, in particular tackling stigma and negative perceptions of what it means to have a mental health difficulty. He strongly believes that ‘co-production’ is central to the development of services and wants to see greater equality and roles for service users and carers in the planning of mental health services.

Tim has a Diploma in Psychosocial Interventions (Thorn Accred), holds a business degree, an MSc (Professional Practice in Health Sciences) and has a number of other professional qualifications. As part of his MSc programme he completed empirical work on the role of human factors in completed suicide.  He is currently training as an Humanistic Integrative Counsellor and is a student member of the BACP. 

Alison Blofield

Alison Blofield

Expert Representative for Mental Health Act, Approved Clinician and Prescribing

Alison is a Nurse Consultant and Professional Lead for MH Nursing (Shropshire) in a an integrated trust – Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. An RMN since the mid 1980's and appointed as a Nurse Consultant in 2000 in Acute Care where she continues to practice in inpatient services. As an Approved Clinician and Prescriber she has Responsible Clinician status for a group of patients under the Mental Health Act undertaking the full range of statutory duties. Alison is passionate about leadership and developing skills of other nurses to optimise the contribution nursing care to patients admitted to hospital and reducing time away from home and families.

In addition to expert practice Alison has a key role in upholding the guiding principles of the MHA and ensuring patient choice in treatment. Ongoing objectives are to reduce restrictive interventions and improve the sexual safety of patients on wards.

Carol Cooper

Expert Representative for BME Suicide Awareness, Equality, Diversity and Human Rights

Carol Cooper is the expert lead for Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) Suicide Awareness, Equality, Diversity and Human Rights. Her varied career spans public health nursing, workforce development, government advisor, leadership consultant specialising in equitable leadership and international development. She is also the Regional Lead for the Chief Nursing Officer’s Black & Minority Ethnic Strategic Advisory Group (CNO BME SAG) for the Midland & East regions, working to enable equity in the NHS workforce and address matters of access, quality and disadvantage for BME staff and patients.

As an advocate of cultural safety, her work brings into the centre ground the risk of adopting a colour blind approach to health and social care when there are persistent and unwarranted variations in experiences and outcomes for some BME groups. Carol has been actively engaged in the implementation of the Workforce Race Equality Standard and creating a systemic approach to addressing racism in the workplace which is driven by data, expertise and equitable leadership to achieve cultural change.

Developing a health and social care observatory to monitor, track implement and report on the impact of policy and practice on the mental and physical health of BME populations is a development that Carol feels is a necessary step to achieving racial equity in service provision. Her contribution to the RCN Mental Health Forum brings cultural intelligence to the heart of policy making, serves to raise the profile of mental wellness in the workplace and achieve parity between physical and mental health.

The Dennis group

The Dennis Group

Formed in the name of Sharon Dennis (1963-2013) UK’s 1st BME Director of Mental Health Nursing and RCN South East Regional Director (2004-2009). This group, consisting of BME MH RCN activists and those with lived experience of using MH services, are working with the MH Forum and MHN Expert Representatives to ensure equality and inclusion is profiled in mental health policy, practice, research and leadership. Twitter: @TheDennisGroup1
Sarah Eales

Dr Sarah Eales

Expert Representative for Liaison Psychiatry

Sarah Eales qualified as a mental health nurse in 1994 and has worked within the field of Liaison Mental Health Care for seventeen years, as a researcher, clinician and academic, completing a PhD on the Service User Experience of Liaison Mental Health Care in 2013. As an active member of the London Wide Liaison Nurses Special Interest Group Sarah was part of the group which developed the Liaison Nursing Competencies and led the 2014 update. As a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at City University London Sarah was the Programme Manager for the Pre-registration Mental Health Nursing programme for six years. She joined the academic staff at Bournemouth University on 2014 as a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing and is the current Pre-registration Programme Lead; teaching both pre-and post-registration courses. Her recent research focus has been integrated care core competencies and she is currently involved in research about nursing resilience and retention. Sarah is a member of the Faculty of Liaison Psychiatry Executive Committee and the Psychiatric Liaison Accreditation Network Accreditation Committee. 

Mark Haddad

Dr Mark Haddad

Expert Representative for Reading Well books on prescription scheme 

Mark is a registered mental health and adult nurse, and currently a senior researcher and lecturer at City, University of London. Until 2014 he maintained a clinical specialist role in primary care mental health. Previously he was a clinical research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, and was awarded a Medical Research Council doctoral fellowship, which involved developing and evaluating training for district nurses’ roles in assessing and managing the mental health needs of their patients. His research has focused on extending the mental health knowledge and skills of generalist clinicians such as GPs and school nurses, as well as approaches to improve the physical health care provided by mental health staff. His specialist interests include depression, primary care mental health, and the relationship between physical and mental health. Mark has been an elected member of the RCN Mental Health Forum (2004-14), and was a member of the NICE guideline development group for depression and chronic physical illness (2008-9). He has represented the RCN on expert panels of the Reading Well books on prescription schemes for common mental health problems and for long term conditions. He is currently a member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Mental Health Nursing and of the Nursing Standard Evidence & Practice advisory panel. He has more than 50 published peer-reviewed articles, and has recently written a book on depression. 

Douglas Hamandishe

Douglas Hamandishe

Expert Representative for IT & Digital Development

Douglas has successfully delivered large scale IT Transformation projects within the healthcare sector and the private sector. Douglas is a practicing Mental Health Nurse with 12 years experience working across inpatient and community settings, he has successfully combined this with his strong background in engineering and technology, this allows him to add that extra validity and clinical expertise to consultancy and engagement with clinicians and technical staff. This is underpinned by strong effective leadership and coaching approach to successfully drive through change.

Douglas is passionately driven to introduce technology to improve the working lives for Health care professionals by enabling them to deliver a better care for citizens. His passion for patient empowerment has resulted in a chapter on Collaboration between patients and carers being published in Mental Health & Psychiatry 3rd Edition which is used to train nurses on care planning. He also is an honorary lecturer at Kingston University delivery the Recovery focused Care planning module to pre-registration nurses.

Ian Hamilton

Ian Hamilton

Expert Representative for safe prescribing and withdrawal management of prescribed drugs associated with dependence and withdrawal

Ian is associate professor of addiction at the University of York. He is a registered mental health nurse and has worked with people who have a mental health problem and problems with alcohol and other drugs. Ian now teaches and researches alcohol and drug issues, including trends in population drug use and how drugs impact specific groups such as women. He writes a column for the Independent about drugs and the impact substances have on individuals and society.

Liz Hughes

Dr Liz Hughes

Expert Representative for Sexual Safety

Liz is Professor of Mental Health at the School of Healthcare at University of Leeds. She is a mental health nurse who worked in acute inpatient services and substance use services. She has an academic career spanning almost 20 years and has worked in London, the Midlands, and is currently based in Yorkshire. She has a special interest in co morbidity in mental health and has worked with the Department of Health to develop workforce development tools to improve care for people with dual diagnosis (substance use and mental health). More recently she has developed an interest in the intersection between sex and mental health and has lead an NIHR study which evaluated sexual health promotion for people with serious mental illness. Liz has also undertaken studies exploring staff views and practice in relation to sex, sexuality and sexual violence in mental health care. She is currently leading a national study which seeks to examine how mental health needs are identified and addressed after attendance at sexual assault referral centres. 

Ada Hui

Dr Ada Hui

Expert Representative for Health and Social Justice

Ada is an Assistant Professor at the School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham. She is a registered mental health nurse and nurse teacher who has worked in a variety of clinical settings, ranging from community rehabilitation through to high security hospitals. Ada completed her ESRC (+3) CASE funded PhD in Sociology and Social Policy, examining ‘The Uses of Coercive Measures within a High Security Hospital’. She has since been awarded the prestigious Mary Seacole Leadership Award in recognition of her work towards improving the care, experiences and outcomes of black and minority ethnic individuals who use mental health services.

Ada teaches and convenes modules across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes relating to research methods, ethics, policy and healthcare. Ada’s research interests centre on the studies of health and social justice. Using her interdisciplinary expertise in sociology and mental health, she specialises in working with marginalised communities on the themes of emotional labour, role, identity and belonging.

Ada is currently leading the ‘SHARE’ (Social Health and Recovery Experiences) study, examining the lived experiences of mental distress and recovery amongst Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals.  She is also working on ‘NEON’ (Narrative Experiences Online) as part of the Research into Recovery programme of work. She is continuing to build upon her publications whilst working towards influencing theory, education, policy and practice through her academic research interests and expertise.

Stephen Jones

Expert Representative for Workforce and Career Development

A registered mental health nurse, Stephen embarked on an unconventional career pathway; a journey of practice and research development. Stephen shaped and commenced a bespoke HEE funded clinical-academic pathway, consolidating his practice at Oxleas NHS, while commencing a full-time PhD at the University of Greenwich. Stephen’s doctoral research explored the influence senior nurse leaders have on mental health nurses towards implementing recovery-orientated practices.  He is in the final stages of writing-up and is due to submit his thesis this year.

In 2015, Stephen was named a Nursing Times Rising Star for his enthusiasm and commitment to the role of mental health nursing. He has a proven track record of leading change and promoting innovation; improving service-user outcomes, while developing and enriching the professional role of the mental health nurse. Stephen holds a keen interest in mental health workforce development, in particular the areas of career pathways, leadership, teamwork and multi-disciplinary person-centred collaborative working. Stephen joined the South London Mental Health and Community Partnership (SLP) in January 2020, driving the advancement of senior nursing careers across Oxleas, SLaM and SWLSTG.

Nicky Lambert

Nicky Lambert

Expert Representative for Menopause and Mental Health

Nicky is an Associate Professor (Practice) at Middlesex University, where she is Director of Teaching and Learning for Mental Health and Social Work. She is also a co-director of the Centre for Coproduction in Mental Health and Social Care. Nicky is a Senior Teaching Fellow (SFHEA) and writes for a range of publications. She is registered as a Specialist Practitioner (NMC) and has been a mental health nurse for 20 years, working as a practice development nurse, ward manager and matron.  Over that time she has worked across a range of mental health services both in the UK and internationally, supporting staff and practice development in acute and mental health trusts, councils, businesses and charities. She  is also a Trustee for West Hampstead Women's centre. 

Nicky has a professional Twitter feed: @niadla and is keen that all people with and interest in mental health engage together as a community to support good practice and challenge discrimination. She has teaching and research interests in women's health, physical and mental health, co-production, social media and health education.

Gary Lamph 2

Dr Gary Lamph

Expert Representative in Personality Disorder and for the National Clinical Audit of Anxiety and Depression 

Gary is a Senior Research Fellow based at the University of Central Lancashire and is a Registered Mental Health Nurse. Gary is also a practising BABCP accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist. Gary has over 20 years mental health nursing experience. Gary has worked in a range of mental health services often following new service development in line with the policy led modernisation of mental health services, including forensic inpatients, crisis resolution and home treatment, early intervention in psychosis, psychological therapies service’s both secondary care and Primary Care IAPT and personality disorder services. In 2011 Gary won the National Nursing Times Award in Mental Health for leading on the development of the Wigan Multi-Agency Personality Disorder Strategy, during this time he was employed as an Advanced Practitioner in Personality Disorder. He has a special interest in common mental health disorders and co-morbid complexity. He is the current secretary of the British and Irish Group for the Study of Personality Disorder.

Gary has completed a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funded Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Manchester. His PhD thesis looks at 'Enhancing understanding of the experience of people with common mental health disorders and co-morbid personality traits who present to primary care IAPT services'.

Rebecca Lingard

Rebecca Lingard

Expert Representative for Reducing Restraint and Restrictive Practice 

Rebecca Lingard has been in the caring profession for over 25 years, starting her career as a care assistant on a dementia unit. Qualifying as a registered Mental Health Nurse in 2003, she spent four years working on a busy inner London acute admissions unit. Rebecca has a special interest in psychiatric intensive care, specifically women's services, and has worked in this care setting for over 10 years. Working as a Matron for East London Foundation NHS Trust, Rebecca is now responsible for Women’s Acute Services in Tower Hamlets and was also the Interim Operational Manager for the London Trial Site for the Liaison and Diversion Service (Criminal Justice Mental Health Team), helping to establish the service before handing over to a substantive operational lead. Rebecca is also an Honorary Lecturer at City University, and a Clinical MAPA Instructor, teaching clinicians therapeutic de-escalation techniques and therapeutic holding skills.

In 2017 Rebecca along with Chris Dzikit became contributing Authors for ‘Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing:  The Craft of Caring’, writing the chapter on Psychiatric Intensive Care.

Rebecca has an MSc in Inter Professional practice completing a research project on patient’s experiences of being nursed in different hospital environments. Rebecca won Employee of the Year in 2014 for ELFT.

Bertha Matunge

Bertha Matunge

Expert Representative for Practice Development

Bertha is a Registered Mental Health Nurse, Registered Non- Medical Prescriber and she is trained in Behavioral Family Therapy. She started her working career as a secondary school teacher and after 10 years made the bold decision to change careers and train as a mental health nurse at Birmingham City University qualifying in 2006. Her first job in mental health nursing was in working age acute inpatient wards before moving to community nursing where she was for 6 years after which she moved to Nursing Development in 2016. With a background in Teaching she is able to combine this with her Clinical expertise to contribute towards practice development at Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust where she is the Lead Nurse for Quality and Practice.

She is passionate about Nurse Education and besides supporting student nurse experience and preceptorship in her Trust she also contributes on mental health nursing modules at Kingston University as a visiting lecturer clinician. She has been involved in projects looking at the impact of nursing development programmes on recruitment and retention and has had the opportunity to share her work at conferences. She strongly believes that all nurses have different skills and strengths to contribute towards the improvement of the quality of care provided to patients and their loved ones and to support each other to maintain good health and wellbeing. She is also very passionate about the development of BAME nursing leadership and provides mentorship to BAME nurses

She is currently doing an MSc in Leadership and Management in Health.

Clare McAdam

Clare McAdam

Expert Representative for Perinatal Mental Health

Clare is a registered mental health nurse with 35 years’ experience; she has worked in adult inpatient, community mental health & crisis teams gathering a varied set of skills in therapeutic interventions & clinical leadership. More recently over the last 10 years she has worked in perinatal mental health in Devon, in collaboration with Dr Jo Black Perinatal Psychiatrist she set up & developed the Devon Partnership Trust Community Perinatal Service.

Specialising in perinatal mental health has enabled Clare as a nursing leader to grow a service from a small team to now four community perinatal teams offering NICE concordant care & treatment, and a new 8 bedded mother & baby unit for women living in Devon, Cornwall & Somerset. She has a longstanding passion to improve outcomes for women & families where there are mental health challenges.

In her additional roles over the last 3 years, Clare has been involved as a nursing representative with the perinatal mental health NHSE Clinical Reference Group. The group’s work is to seek parity in the delivery of perinatal mental health care across England with an agreed suite of outcome measures. Working alongside women with lived experience has been an essential component in all aspects of the clinical reference groups & service development. She is also the Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Clinical Lead for the NHS Southwest Clinical Network.

Hannah MacDonald

Expert Representative for Lived Experience

Hannah trained as a general adult nurse at King's College, London and started her career on a specialist HIV ward at Chelsea and Westminster hospital. 

This promising start to nursing was to be cut short when Hannah was sectioned under the mental health act the morning before she was to start a late shift. Hannah is very open about her lived experience in the mental health system and she has done talks at various universities and conferences to both nursing and occupational therapy students.

After 12 years out of nursing Hannah has just returned and is now working at a hospice in London.  

Hannah is passionate about how nurses in both physical and mental health settings gaining a deeper understanding of how physical and mental health is intrinsically linked and the importance of all nurses caring for both. She is keen to see nursing embrace the role of facilitating and supporting co-production and peer support in all areas of nursing but would also love to see nursing peer support groups set up for nurses; to enable a safe space to be created where nurses can share their struggles together.

Jennifer Oates

Dr Jennifer Oates

Expert Representative for Suicide 

Jenny is a lecturer in mental health at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care at King's College London. Her clinical background is in liaison psychiatry and community mental health. Her PhD thesis was on the mental health and wellbeing of nurses. Her research and teaching interests are: management of suicide and self harm; nursing and midwifery workforce wellbeing; nursing professional role development.

Jenny has been an independent member of the governing body of Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group since 2012, contributing to the governance and quality surveillance of health and care services in the city. She has been a Specialist Adviser and Mental Health Act Reviewer with the Care Quality Commission. She was previously a Mental Health Nursing Adviser and Fitness to Practice panel member at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Jacqueline Sin

Dr Jacqueline Sin

Expert Representative for NICE Guidance 

Jacqueline is a mental health nurse and health services researcher. Currently, she holds a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) post-doctoral research fellowship, based at St George’s, University of London, working on a study to develop and evaluate an online multi-component resource for carers supporting a loved one affected by psychosis, see: COPe-support. She also works part-time in University of Reading and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as a clinician-academic.

Jacqueline’s clinical and research interests focus on understanding the needs and experiences of individuals affected by psychosis and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (as much as other mental health conditions), and those of their family carers and siblings, so to developing and evaluating psychosocial interventions - delivered via individual, group-based, and e-health medium - to enhance their mental health and wellbeing. Clinically, she works as a Consultant Nurse Therapist at the Berkshire Traumatic Stress Service, specialising in the assessment and treatment for people with complex presentation of PTSD. Jacqueline is an active Cochrane review author and writes extensively on the aforementioned topics. She served as a member of the NICE Guideline Development Group for psychosis and schizophrenia (2007-2010).

Alison van Laar

Expert Representative for Advanced Clinical Practice

Alison qualified as an RMN in 1992 at the Maudsley Hospital in London and after working in various clinical areas following qualification, including seven years as a CPN in London, she moved to the West of Ireland. There she set up the Psychiatric Liaison service in a large teaching hospital and returned to the UK in 2018 following a fifteen year career in Liaison Psychiatry.  The last five years were spent working in an Advanced Nurse Practitioner role in Galway.

She was the Chair of the West of Ireland ANP Forum which brought together all the qualified and trainee Advanced Nurses and Midwives across the region in order to provide support and also deliver ongoing CPD to the group.  It recognised the need to encourage and mentor trainee and qualified ANP’s in the workplace. She is keen to look at setting up a similar forum in the UK.

Alison has spoken at conference about the role and the benefits for patients and services when Advanced Practice Nurses are in the workplace and is committed to promoting Advanced Practice across all disciplines. Since commencing her new post as the Associate Director for MH & LD care in Somerset, she is looking at developing innovative roles for staff across the Trust. She is a passionate advocate for advancing nursing practice, and welcomes the new stringent requirements for registration.  This will enable the practitioner to be recognised as a specialist expert across the services and to be able to make a significant contribution to improving patient care.

Page last updated - 01/05/2020