Sir David has devoted his professional life to improving the teaching of psychological skills to doctors of all kinds, and to improving the quality of services for those with severe mental illnesses. He has advised the Department of Health over the years about service developments, and has been extensively used by the World Health Organisation as a mental health consultant.
He completing his psychiatric training at the Maudsley, he went to Manchester, where for over 20 years he was Head of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science. In 1993 he returned to the Maudsley as Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Research and Development.
His interests are in vulnerability factors which predispose people to develop depression, and in teaching general practitioners to give a better service to psychologically distressed patients. His research over many years has been concentrated on the details of communication between GP’s and their patients, and he has applied these principles to his teaching of mental health workers in developing countries. He has a major interest in the best way primary care and specialist mental health services should relate to one another. For the past 25 years my interests have extended away from doctors to the people who are in states of distress- with particular attention to the factors that make people vulnerable to stressful life events. My first book on this subject dealt with both GP’s and their patients (“Mental Illness in the Community, the Pathway to Psychiatric care” with Peter Huxley) and my most recent book takes a thorough, developmental look at the determinants of this vulnerability (“The Course and Origin of Common Mental Disorders” with Ian Goodyer).
He has served as Non-Executive Director of Trusts from 1985 to 2005, first in Manchester, then at the Bethlem-Maudsley NHS Trust, finally at the Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust. He was Chairman of the Guideline Development Group for Depression for NICE. He is a Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford; King’s College, London; and the Academy of Medical Sciences.
He retired in 1999, and now works part time at the Institute. He is currently Chairman of the Psychiatry Research Trust at the Institute.