Robert Westhead - Trustee and Networks and Communities Committee Member
Robert works as External Communications Manager for West London Mental Health Trust and as a freelance PR consultant, copywriter and trainer.
He began his career as a journalist, last working for the Press Association, before taking a job in the Food Standards Agency press office in his early thirties. Until then he’d failed to get effective drug treatment for bipolar disorder, which he’d been diagnosed with at the age of 19. But soon afterwards he had a breakthrough, which was transformative. It changed his life and worldview, leading him to work in mental health, determined to make things better for others.
He joined the Department of Health programme to tackle stigma and discrimination, SHIFT, becoming a mental health campaigner. For six years he led on changing media representations of mental illness, working closely with national newspapers, the Press Complaints Commission and the BBC. He also strove to improve employers’ management of mental health problems in the workplace, an agenda now taken forward by Time to Change amongst others.
Robert ran his local self-help group for people with bipolar disorder for 10 years. He then became a trustee and later chair of Bipolar UK. He steered the charity back towards being a well-run and financially stable organisation, focused on helping people with the condition. He championed the patient voice by sitting on two successive NICE bipolar guidelines as a service user representative. He has also spoken widely in the media about the condition, seeking to challenge popular misconceptions.
After working in PR for the children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent for three years, Robert returned to mental health, joining West London Mental Health Trust. As well becoming a trustee of Mind, he is now a director of the social enterprise West London Collaborative, which brokers co-production solutions to local health and social change challenges.
Ever since he fell ill, Robert has always sought to be open about his condition, which has profoundly shaped his life, for better and for worse. He feels privileged to have been elected as a trustee of Mind. He believes the charity – and people with mental health problems – have never been in a stronger position to make the world a better place for us all. He is married with two children and lives in west London.