Director, Particularism in Bioethics, Professional Ethics and Medicine
I am a lecturer in Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University. I am also Director of the Particularism in Bioethics, Professional Ethics and MedicineNetwork. My main research areas are aesthetics and moral philosophy, and selected issues in mind and language. I am co-editor of Philosophy and Museums: Ethics, Aesthetics and Ontology(Cambridge University Press, 2015) and editor of a planned volume on Evaluative Perception(with Robert Cowan). I have also published on particularism, thick evaluative concepts, semantic contextualism. I am interested in the intersection between metaethics, epistemology and philosophy of medicine, currently preparing a monograph on particularism and values-based practice.
Head of Empowerment and Social Inclusion, Mental Health Foundation.
David is Head of Applied Learning, at the Mental Health Foundation; a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health; and was a founder member of the National Survivor User Network, the UK’s leading network led by people living with a psychiatric diagnosis. He is also an ethics committee member of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics; a former technical advisor to WHO Europe and a former senior mental health advisor to Public Health England. Within the Collaborating Centre, he is Lead for the Values-based Practice in Public Mental Health Network. David has substantial personal experience of using mental health services, including time as a detained patient, and now applies this experience and the learning from it in a systematic and productive way to improve outcomes for people who experience mental ill-health.
Public mental health is a rapidly expanding area of interdisciplinary research, linking academics, charitable foundations, NGOs and policy makers. At its core, public mental health aims to improve overall population mental health, and – relatedly – to reduce the prevalence of mental illness amongst individuals. Public mental health has moved from a primary focus on preventing psychiatric disorders through early identification of symptoms and treatment of mental illness through psychiatric services to a greater understanding of the broader bio/psycho/social causes of poor mental health, including diagnosed psychiatric conditions. In the area usually identified as common mental disorders (often referred to as ‘CMD’ - for example depression, anxiety, phobias); there has been significant progress in developing community level responses that address environmental factors rather than focussing on treating individuals with a diagnosis.
The network has been established to put values-based practice at the core of developing thinking in this area. It aims to brings together a strong partnership of philosophers, practitioners and activists with a shared ambition to shift thinking away from the idea of individual illness towards an approach which takes into account the broader context of wellbeing, public mental health and population mental health; recognising the importance of communities, relationships and the impact of inequalities and power relationships.
There have been interesting developments in population mental health and wellbeing. It has been recognised that wellbeing is important; and that it is possible for policy and practice to have an impact on this. It has also become apparent that wellbeing (like pretty much everything) is not evenly distributed across whole populations. Research into mental health, and into psychiatry more broadly, has illustrated that there are a heterogeneous range of factors which can predispose one, or heighten one’s risk, of suffering from mental ill health, all of which must be taken into account in the design of a public mental health strategy.
What guides the design of a public mental health approach, and indeed the inclusion of those with lived experience in mental health care design and treatment methodologies, is dependent upon mediation of differing values. Values-based practice, in it’s approach to public health, and to healthcare, purports to offer ways of competing values being accommodated, and a number of practical guides exist, offering support for clinicians adopting a VBP approach. However, clinicians and those with lived-experience disagree often, leading to debates around values, and how best to proceed with preventative and recovery-focused interventions. For instance, how should public mental health accommodate the positive experience reported by many with the lived experience of a severe and enduring mental illness (SMI) of their symptoms? Philosophers have contributed to the debates surrounding the ‘Mad Activism’ movement, and these and related areas will be considered.
This shift of thinking and practice has not, however, been apparent for areas typically described as severe and enduring mental illness (often abbreviated to ‘SMI’), this would include diagnoses such as bipolar disorder (previously manic depression), schizophrenia, personality disorder or even eating disorders, and may also include “symptoms” associated with diagnoses like paranoia, self-harm or hearing voices. We also aim to establish mechanisms for shared decision-making to take place at all levels from community development to individual care planning.
Additionally, lacunas in our theoretical understanding of concepts central to an efficacious public mental health approach such as quality of life, and indeed, mental health, mean that development of public mental health literature bases are very much in their infancy.
The network has a programme of advanced studies seminars entitled Public Mental Health: Pushing the Boundaries with further events planned. The series has already explored themes such as:
To join the network please contact the Network Leads for more information
Please see below for the announcements from the network for the last 12 months. To see older announcements, please visit the VBP Archive.
The wikiVBP Reference Library aims to provide a focused resource of literature and other materials supporting training, research and policy developments in values-based practice.
Please Click Here to go to the library
Core activities of the Centre are based around three inter-linked areas, Education, Regulation and Integration, together with crosscutting themes of Theory and Practice