Building a better understanding of mental health

As Professor Raymond Feldman (Diploma Gerontology, 1991) was retiring from his role as Senior Chief Executive at British Telecoms in 1984, following a successful career in technology and engineering that had spanned the US and the UK, he realised he didn’t know what to do next…  

Over the years, Professor Feldman had supported family members who were living with mental health conditions; he witnessed the impact that the lack of awareness and knowledge around mental health was having on enabling people to renew their lives and be accepted into society. Following his retirement, he embarked upon a diploma in psychology at Birkbeck to learn more. “I have studied at universities in the UK and overseas, but I must say, Birkbeck changed my life totally. I would have never achieved what I have without the excellent lecturers and encouragement Birkbeck gave me”. 

His first course at Birkbeck led to him undertake a second, a diploma in Gerontology, studying the physical, mental and social changes of ageing. Whilst studying, Professor Feldman volunteered as a Non-Executive Director at Barnet Health Authority and his passion for supporting people with mental health conditions grew. He went on to research and volunteer within various roles in the NHS eventually specialising in investigating the challenges faced by people with conditions such as Schizophrenia.   

Being part of creating communities and cultures that accept, acknowledge and understand mental health has been at the heart of Professor Feldman’s work and he feels it is more important now than ever; “with the advent of Covid-19, the lack of funding to diagnose and support those with mental health conditions has become starkly apparent. It is an area that is still often neglected by healthcare services and staff often lack the experience to support clients fully. As such many people with mental health conditions become dependent on their families or charities but with the right support it is possible to return their independence.” At 92 years old, he continues to be a passionate advocate for organisations that work to ensure that those with mental health conditions can receive treatment, recover and realise their potential.