Skip to main content

Akiko Hart

The Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH) are delighted to announce the appointment of our new Professor in Practice, Akiko Hart.

Akiko is a leading figure in the health voluntary sector with a distinguished track record of driving change in the fields of mental health, social justice, and racial justice - spaces which are priority areas for the work of IMH. Once the Director of Mental Health Europe, Akiko is currently the CEO of the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) - a UK membership organisation for mental health service users/survivors and user-led groups and networks. Since assuming this role in 2020, she has successfully established NSUN as a leading voice in the mental health sector, such as through trebling its annual income and staff capacity.

In addition to these roles, Akiko currently holds positions as the Chair of the International Society for Psychological & Social Approaches to Psychosis (UK) and a Trustee of National Voices, having previously served as Trustee of the Hearing Voices Network (UK). Akiko has also held key advisory and expert roles in major national and international organisations of esteem including the Lancet Psychiatry Commission on Psychoses in Global Context and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) BRACE Rapid Evaluation Centre, amongst many others.

At Durham University, Akiko has served on the IMH International Advisory Board since 2018. In this capacity, she has helped IMH to develop extensive contacts and networks within these spaces and to increase the profile of our research at both national and international levels to facilitate new collaborations. She has provided an invaluable contribution guiding the Institute on social justice, good governance structures and our research and engagement with mental health organisations. Akiko has also made significant contributions to our most impactful world-leading research project, Hearing the Voice, and collaborated on the development of the Understanding Voices website - the world’s leading information resource on hearing voices. Akiko has also co-authored several publications with IMH researchers as well independent publications on mental health and psychosis.

At present, Akiko is supporting IMH to develop a major £10 million bid to Wellcome for a Discovery Research Platform to help overcome barriers to research and catalyse major new co-produced research within hidden experiences of health and well-being.

Professors in Practice are an initiative run by Durham University which aims to recognise the professional expertise of senior members across the practitioner community by bringing their practical insight to the classroom to enhance students’ educational experiences. Professors in Practice also provide distinct connections for Durham University’s research and scholarship by increasing its engagement with policy and practice. 

Due to assume her new role in August 2022, Akiko will continue to support the University in this capacity by:

  • Remaining as a member of the IMH International Advisory Board.
  • Assisting IMH to forge better links with mental health and health research sector organisations across the UK.
  • Promoting IMH at an international level, including developing new opportunities for engagement with voluntary sector and policy organisations outside the UK.
  • Building on the current work of IMH to develop a network of international academic partnerships in the critical medical humanities.
  • Contributing to the new suite of taught postgraduate programmes in Medical Humanities by drawing on her campaigning and policy experience in the mental health sector.
  • Advising on wider University plans to develop CPD training for the health sector.
  • Providing mentoring support and guidance to Durham University students and staff with research and career development interests in the voluntary and health sectors.

On her appointment, Akiko Hart said:

“I am delighted to be able to support the IMH and Durham University in this way. I’m particularly excited about bringing the critical medical humanities and the voluntary sector even closer together, catalysing new research questions and generative partnerships.”

IMH looks forward to continuing to develop their relationship with Akiko in her new role and wishes her the best of luck in this new endeavour!