Dr Karen Newbigging

Dr Karen Newbigging

Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Policy and Management

Contact details

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

Karen 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 fifteen years Karen has been involved in research, consultancy and system development for a broad range of health and social care organisations including government. Her recent work has focused on the implementation of health and social care policy, patient and public involvement, advocacy and action to tackle health inequalities and discrimination. Karen has a particular interest in mental health, and is a core member of the Institute for Mental Health at the University. She is a Chartered Psychologist, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and a Senior Fellow of the School for Social Care.


  • Health and social care policy
  • Mental health transformation
  • Equalities and intersectionality
  • Advocacy and service user involvement
  • Prevention and public mental health


  • 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)


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
  • Director of Mental Health, Health and Social Care Advisory Service
  • Director of the Centre for Mental Health Services Development, King’s College, The Strand, London
  • Project Manager/Deputy Director, Director, North West Mental Health Development Centre  King’s College, The Strand, London
  • Lead Commissioner for the Mental Health Services, East Lancashire Health Authority
  • Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Burnley Healthcare
  • Senior/Principal Clinical Psychologist, North Manchester District Health Authority

Karen’s regularly presents at national and international conferences and her work on advocacy has been cited by government. Outside of her University role, Karen has been a local councillor and is currently a Trustee of Calderdale Healthy Minds.


  • Sociology of health and illness
  • Module lead (with Hilary Brown) for People, Patients and Communities module on M.Sc. in Health Management
  • Course Director for CCG Mental Health Leadership Development Programme funded by NHS England

Postgraduate supervision

Karen would welcome PhD students interested in the following:

  • Implementation of health and social care policy
  • Mental health
  • Promoting equalities in health and social care provision
  • Public and patient engagement
  • Advocacy and service user involvement

Current PhD students:

Meanaz Akhtar:  Intergenerational care provision within South Asian family units amongst third generation South Asian female carers 

Stevie Creese: A realistic evaluation of policies and interventions that promote the concept of "Parity of Esteem" for those with a mental illness.

Mark Roberts: Sense-making in entrepreneurial NHS leaders implementing an assets model to improve health and wellbeing


Recent research (as a PI) includes:

  • The contribution of the voluntary sector to mental health crisis care, (National Institute for Health Research HS&DR)
  • Investigation of the costs of poor mental health to the West Midlands, West Midlands Mental Health Commission (West Midlands Combined Authority)
  • Commissioning for Better Outcomes in adult social care (Local Government Association)
  • Review of the quality of Independent Mental Health Advocate services in England (Department of Health Policy Research Programme)
  • Good practice in social care for asylum seekers and refugees (Social Care Institute for Excellence (Social Care Institute for Excellence (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

External activitiesinclude:

  • Member of the Editorial Board for Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care
  • Member of the Department of Health National Taskforce on Women’s Mental Health
  • 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



Abel, K. & Newbigging, K. (2018). Addressing unmet needs in women’s mental health. BMA special issue on mental health

Bell, A., Durcan, G., Newbigging, K. and Ince, R. 2018. Filling the Chasm: Reimagining primary care mental health. London: Centre for Mental Health.

Burstow, P., Newbigging, K., Tew, J. and Costello, B., 2018. Investing in a resilient generation: Keys to a mentally prosperous nation. Birmingham: University of Birmingham.

Newbigging, K. and Ridley, J., 2018. Epistemic struggles: The role of advocacy in promoting epistemic justice and rights in mental health. Social Science & Medicine,219, pp.36-44.

Ridley, J., Newbigging, K. and Street, C., 2018. Mental health advocacy outcomes from service user perspectives. Mental Health Review Journal, 23(4), pp.280-292.


Newbigging, K.,  2017.  Mainstreaming gender equity to improve women's mental health: lessons from England in Sánchez-López , M.P. The Psychology of Gender and Health. San Diego: Elsevier.

Newbigging, K., Mohan, J., Rees, J., Harlock, J. and Davis, A., 2017. Contribution of the voluntary sector to mental health crisis care in England: protocol for a multimethod study. BMJ open7(11), p.e019238.

Newbigging, K. & Parsonage, M., 2017. Report for the West Midlands Mental Health Commission. Mental Health in the West Midlands Combined Authority: Baseline assessment of the costs of mental ill health and current service provision. University of Birmingham and Centre for Mental Health.

Ridley, J., de la Haye, S., Sadd, J., Newbigging, K. and Machin, K., 2018. Independent Advocacy. Chapter 11 in Wright, K. and McKeown, M. Essentials of Mental Health Nursing. Sage Publications.

Newbigging, K., Ridley, J. & Sadd, J., 2017. Commissioning Care Act Advocacy: A Work In Progress: Research Report. University of Birmingham: CoSS.

Turner, P. and Newbigging, K., 2017. Reimagining primary care mental health: A Blueprint for STPs. Br. J. Gen Pract: 67(661), pp. 342-343


Heginbotham, C. & Newbigging, K., 2016. Public Health Vols I-IV. London: Sage.

Newbigging, K., 2016. Blowin’ in the wind: The involvement of people who use services and the public in health and social care in Exworthy, M., Mannion. R., Powell, M. Dismantling the NHS? Evaluating the impact of health reforms. Bristol: Policy Press.


Fleischmann, P., Machin, K., McKeown, M., Ridley, J., Newbigging, K. & Sadd, J. (2015). Promoting  the use of Independent Mental Health Advocates. Nursing Times, 111 (45): 22-24

Machin, K and Newbigging, K (in press), Advocacy - a stepping stone to recovery. ImRoC/Centre for Mental Health/NHS Confederation (available via ImROC website).

Newbigging, K, Ridley, J, McKeown, M, Machin, K, and Poursanidou, K (2015), '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, 23(3), 313-324.

Newbigging, K, Ridley, J, McKeown, M, Sadd, J, Machin, 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, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Newbigging, K. (2015). Mainstreaming Gender Equity in Health:  Possibilities and Pitfalls for Policy and Practice.  Annals of the Global Health Equity Foundation 2015. Available at: http://ghef.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/GHEFAnnalsWeb2015.pdf.


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.


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

Newbigging, K, McKeown, M and French, B (2013). Mental health advocacy and African and Caribbean men: good practice principles and organisational models for delivery. Health Expectations, 16(1), 80-104.


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.


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. & Thomas, N. (2010). Good practice in social care for asylum seekers and refugees. A Resource Guide. London: Social Care Institute for Excellence. http://www.scie.org.uk/publications/guides/guide37/about.asp.

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.

View all publications in research portal


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.


Health and Social care

My area of expertise is mental health and this includes prevention,  promoting better understanding of mental health problems, co-production, system development, addressing inequalities.