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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together

Five Minutes With a Consultant Lead Clinical Psychologist

Published: 05/10/2022

In the latest Five Minutes With feature, we caught up with Consultant Lead Clinical Psychologist, Gary Roberts. Gary’s passion for his role is clear, having dedicated over 20 years of his life to supporting vulnerable people across the West Midlands. In the following article we get to learn about Gary’s journey to becoming a Consultant Lead Clinical Psychologist and how he very nearly went down a different career route entirely! Find out more below: 

Hi Gary, please can you tell us a little bit about your role at BSMHFT? 

Consultant Lead Clinical Psychologist

I started work in Birmingham in 2002, in North Birmingham Mental Health Trust, which not long afterwards morphed into BSMHFT. My first role was acting Lead for Yardley and Hodge Hill, before moving over to Handsworth to be Lead there.

Gary Roberts

Following that, I became a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and BME Psychological Services Lead for what was then called the Heart of Birmingham (HOB). Next came Consultant Lead Psychologist for Birmingham North, East and West (NEW), culminating in my current role which is Consultant Clinical Psychologist leading the Psychological Service in the Acute and Urgent Care Division.

As part of my role, I work as a clinician at Mary Seacole House, which is an inpatient facility, comprised of three units, located in Handsworth. It serves a catchment area, comprising a cultural and ethnically diverse population, largely from Black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee communities.

Each service user brings a set of unique life experiences and stories of experienced trauma and other life challenges, all of which need to be understood with empathy and compassion, and then used to create hope and affect positive change. I am also responsible for operationally and strategically leading a growing team of psychological professional colleagues from across the Trust, within the division. 

What inspired you to choose your profession and what made you decide to specialise in your field?

I had planned to study art, from childhood. Later that plan narrowed to a focus on fashion design. Following A-Level, I was thumbing through a university catalogue and came to the section on Psychology. I had always been curious about people and particularly about why people could be so cruel to each other. So, on the spur of the moment, I decided to switch to that. The rest is history.

I am the only mental health professional in my family. My father, who was my hero, created a very successful company. My wider relatives were entrepreneurial and involved in banking, education, and politics.

You obviously have a very impressive career, but what has been the most rewarding moment over your 20+ years of experience?

That would be the moment when my father told me that he was proud of me.

What has been the most challenging moment of your life? 

Dealing with the deaths of both parents. However, from those experiences came a deepened understanding and ability to relate to the stories of pain that one routinely encounters in this line of work. 

If you could say one thing to your younger self, what would it be?

Get ready, kid. You are going to have one hell of a life!

How do you look after your own health and wellbeing?

Art. Food. Travel. Fashion. The gym. People watching.

Tell us a fact about yourself that people might not know.

My favourite author is Jorge Luis Borges.

Describe yourself in three words

Tall. Funny. Stylish.

Gary Roberts
Gary Roberts quote