Albert was born on 5 October 1954 in Trinidad in the Caribbean. Both of his parents are of Indian descent and came to the UK when Albert was very young. Albert completed his school education in the UK. He first joined the NHS in 1974 as a porter and then worked as a care assistant. He studied for his professional psychiatric qualifications and went on to work in public health medicine, joining the Mental Health policy branch of the Department of Health, crafting and developing a number of mental health policy reforms during the late 1990s and through the 2000s. This work included developing and consulting upon the Mental Health Act 2007 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. He was one of the founders of the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) which was established following the National Service Framework for Mental Health to support the implementation of evidence-based practice. He is a lifelong campaigner in equalities and health and a proponent of cultural psychiatry. He co-founded the charity CAREIF – Centre for Applied Research and Evaluation International Foundation (www.careif.org) – a charity based at the Centre for Psychiatry, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Careif is an organisation that works to ensure that working practices and services in the area of mental health are suited to different cultures and societies across the world. Albert also crafted, co-authored and co-edited the Mental Health Legislation Resource, an introductory compendium of some of the most commonly used legislation in mental health and has written many papers in the areas of culture and mental health, post natal depression, and the law and clinical practice. He is a member of the Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC), a trustee of the Long Term Medical Condition Alliance (LMCA), is acting Vice-Chair of the Depression Alliance UK and Chair of the GAMIAN Europe Scientific Committee (Global Alliance for Mental Health Advocacy Networks). He also serves on the advisory board of the South Asian Health Foundation, as well as a number of other scientific committees and boards including the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry, the World Health Organisation and the European Co-operation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research Committee. He is also a founding member of Primary Care Mental Health and Education (PRImhE) which promotes the development of primary mental health care evidence-based practice. Albert is retired but continues to be active in the field of mental health research and policy.
Getting outside of the hospital wardMy interest was in post natal depression. To understand it and work with it properly, you have to come out of the front line health service and work on more of a community based model. 600,000 babies are born in this country every year, and about 15% of mothers go on to develop post natal depression and around 75% go on to get baby blues. If you work on the wards, you will only see those who are ill, you won’t see those who are well. Public health was good, it opens your knowledge and experience beyond management. My experience has been a colourful journey from having an ambition of wanting to change something at the micro level, to achieving it at the macro level.