Karen Newbigging


Karen Newbigging

Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Policy and Management

Contact details

School of Social Policy, HSMC
Park House
University of Birmingham
B15 2RT

Karen Newbigging joined HSMC as a Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Policy and Management in November 2013. Originally qualifying as a clinical psychologist, Karen has over thirty years’ experience in the health and social care sector, including direct service provision and commissioning. For the past ten years Karen has been involved in research, consultancy and system development for a broad range of organisations including government. Her recent work has focused on the implementation of health and social care policy, service user voice and advocacy and action to tackle inequalities, including stigma and discrimination. Karen has a particular interest in evaluation research, drawing on a range of methods underpinned by a participatory approach. Karen is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Karen specialises in: 

  • Mental health
  • Equalities
  • Advocacy and service user involvement 
  • Service user agency and the policy process 
  • Commissioning for mental health and wellbeing


  • PhD in Mental Health Policy, University of Leeds (2013)
  • PGCert in Health Research, University of Leeds (2006)
  • MSc in Ethics of Healthcare, University of Liverpool (1991)
  • Dip. Psych, British Psychological Society (1981)
  • M.A. (Hons) in Psychology, University of Dundee (1978)
  • Chartered Psychologist 
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society


Previous posts held include: 

  • Principal Lecturer/Senior Researcher, International school for Communites, rights and Inclusion, University of Central Lancashire
  • National lead for Gender Equality and Women’s Mental Health, National Institute for Mental Health England/CSIP
  • Director of Mental Health, Health and Social Care Advisory Service
  • Director of Centre for Mental Health Services Development, King’s College
  • Project Manager/Deputy Director, Director, North West Mental Health Development Centre King’s College, The Strand, London
  • Lead Commissioner for Mental Health Services, East Lancashire Health Authority
  • Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Burnley Healthcare
  • Senior/Principal Clinical Psychologist, North Manchester District Health Authority

Karen’s has presented at national and international conferences and her work on advocacy has been cited by government. She is currently on an Advisory Board to the Department of Health Review of the Mental Health Code of Practice. Karen led a national programme on gender equality for the National Institute of Mental Health England from 2006-2008 and acted as an Advisor to the Croton Review of women with vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system. Outside of her University role, Karen has been a local councillor and is currently a Trustee of Calderdale Healthy Minds.

Postgraduate supervision

Karen would welcome PhD students interested in aspects of the following:

  • Mental health policy 
  • Promoting equalities in health and social care provision
  • Public and patient engagement


Recent research (as a PI) includes:

  • Review of the quality of Independent Mental Health Advocate services in England (2010-2012) (DH Policy Research Programme)
  • Good practice in social care for asylum seekers and refugees (SCIE)
  • Conceptualisations of mental wellbeing by black and minority ethnic communities in Scotland (NHS Scotland)
  • Knowledge review of specialist mental health advocacy for African Caribbean men (SCIE)
  • Stigma and Black and minority ethnic communities (NHS Glasgow)
  • Evaluation of the involvement of service users and carers in the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMHE)

Other activities

Current and recent activities include: 

  • Trustee of Calderdale Healthy Minds
  • Member of the Womencentre Advisory Board for Department of Education Pilot on Safeguarding Children and Domestic Violence
  • Advisor for Aawaz, the voice of Asian women
  • Member of the Advisory Group for the Corston Review of women with vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system
  • Member of the National Council for Equalities; National Council of Black and Disabled People



Newbigging, K (in press) Mainstreaming gender equity in health: Possibilities and pitfalls for policy and pratice. Global Health Equity Annals, Vol. 2.

Newbigging, K, Ridley, J, McKeown, M, Sadd, J, Machin, K, Cruse, K, De La Haye, S, Able, L and Poursanidou, K (2015) Independent Mental Health Advocacy - The right to be heard: Context, values and good practice. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Newbigging, K, Ridley, J, McKeown, M, Sadd, J, Machin, K, Cruse, K, De La Haye, S, Able, L and Poursanidou, K (forthcoming). The value of independent mental health advocacy: 'My Voice, My Rights'.


McKeown, M., Ridley, J., Newbigging, K., Machin, K., Poursanidou, K. and Cruse, K. (2014) Conflict of roles: A conflict of ideas? The unsettled relations between care team staff and independent mental health advocates. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, DOI: 10.1111/inm.12069

Newbigging, K, Ridley, J, McKeown, M, Machin, K and Poursanidou, K (2014) 'When you haven't got much of a voice': An evaluation of the quality of Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) services in England. Health and Social Care in the Community, doi: 10.1111/hsc.12153.


Heginbotham, C. & Newbigging, K. (2013), Commissioning Health and Wellbeing. London: Sage.


Newbigging, K., Ridley, J., McKeown, M., Machin, K., Poursanidou, K. (2012). The Right to be Heard. Review of Independent Mental Health Advocate Services in England. Preston: UCLan.

Newbigging, K., Roy, A., McKeown, M., French, B. & Habte-Mariam, Z. (2012). Involving ethnically diverse service users in the research process: alliances and action. in Beresford, P. & Carr, S. Social Care, Service Users and User Involvement: Building on Research. Jessica Kingsley Research Highlight series.


Newbigging, K., McKeown, M. & French B. (2011). Mental health advocacy and African and Caribbean men: good practice principles and organizational models for delivery. Health Expectations. DOI:10.1111/j.1369-7625.2011.00692.x

Roy, A. & Newbigging, K. (2011). Supporting the independence and well-being of adults through a universal service: diversity, difference and proportionate universalism. Diversity in Health and Social Care, 8 (2), 71-80.

Newbigging, K. & Thomas, N. (2011). Good Practice in Social Care for Refugee and Asylum-seeking Children. Child Abuse Review, DOI: 10.1002/car.1178.


Newbigging, K. & Bola, M. (2010). Mental well-being and black and minority ethnic communities: conceptual and practical issues. In McCulloch, A. & Goldie, I. (eds). Public Mental Health Handbook. Brighton. Pavilion Publishing.

Knifton, L., Gervais, M., Newbigging, K., Mirza, N., Quinn, N., Wilson, N., & Hunkins-Hutchison, E. (2010), Community conversation: addressing mental health stigma with ethnic minority communities, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, vol. 45, no. 4, pp. 497-505.

Newbigging, K. & Paul, J. (2010). "Building on or building in? The contribution of policy and the law to women's mental health," in Oxford Textbook of Women's Mental Health, D. Kohen, ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford.


El Ansari W, Newbigging K, Roth C, Malik F. (2009). The Role of Advocacy and Interpretation Services in the Delivery of Quality Health Care to Diverse Minority Communities in London, UK. Health & Social Care in the Community, 17 (6), 636-646.


Newbigging, K., McKeown, M., Hunkins-Hutchinson, E., & French, B. 2007, Mtetezi: Mental health advocacy with African and Caribbean Men. Social Care Institute for Excellence, London.

Newbigging, K. & McKeown, M. (2007). Mental health advocacy for Black and minority ethnic communities: conceptual and ethical implications for commissioners and practitioners. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 20(6), 588-594.


Mental health and social care - including policy, prevention, changing services, service user involvement and advocacy, promoting equalities, services for women, and public and patient engagement.