Skip to main content

Dr Justin Varney

Working to identify challenges and improve mental health outcomes

Dr Justin Varney is Director of Public Health for Birmingham.

Which part of the region do you live in and/or work in?

I live and work in Birmingham

Which organisation/sector/network are you representing on the Mental Health Commission?

I work for Birmingham City Council but am part of the Mental Heath Commission representing the West Midlands Association of Directors of Public Health.

How does your role relate to the mental health agenda?

Directors of Public Health are statutory officers in local government responsible for protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of the population and this includes mental health and wellbeing. Although DPH don’t often commission NHS mental health services, this is lead by the NHS, there is an important role raising awareness about mental health and wellbeing, recognising the importance of up-stream activity to improve mental wellbeing as well as down-stream work on improving health outcomes for people with severe and enduring mental health issues.

What are your particular areas of passion and interest, which you aim to champion through the work of the Commission?

Mental health and wellbeing is important to me both professionally as a Director of Public Health because mental and physical health are equally important to individuals achieving their potential in life.

I am particularly keen on championing the understanding and responding to the mental health and wellbeing needs of diverse communities and the evidence-based response to support these in the West Midlands.

What particular knowledge, skills & experience are you particularly seeking to ‘bring to the table’ to help to progress the work of the Commission?

I am a qualified medical doctor and registered public health consultant with over fifteen years senior experience working in local, regional, national and international public health systems.

I have clinical knowledge of mental illness and treatment, research and evidence synthesis and experience of working on policy design and reform at national and international levels.

I have a particular interest workplace health and wellbeing, I previously worked at a national level leading programmes on workplace health and wellbeing and I am currently an independent advisor to the Council for Health and Work and sit on their working group on mental wellbeing support in the workplace.

I have a particular interest in lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans mental health issues and wellbeing and this is an area where I have been involved in research previously.

I have lived experience of mental health and mental health services and live with a long-term mental health condition.

Image of man with WMCA logo to it