Featured Doctor

DOWRICK, Prof Christopher

UK - Chair WP on Mental Health

What work do you do now?

I am Professor of Primary Medical Care in the University of Liverpool and have been a general practitioner in north Liverpool for the past 25 years. I'm also Professorial Research Fellow in the University of Melbourne in Australia, member of the World Organisation of Family Doctors’ working party on mental health, and a technical expert for the World Health Organisation’s mhGAP programme.

The main focus on my work is oncommon mental health problems in primary care, particularly depression and medically unexplained symptoms. I'm currently looking at ways to improve equity of access to primary care for people from marginalised communities, including asylum seekers and refugees, while reducing the over-medicalisation of human suffering. I am exploring the concept of self in primary care encounters, and how this can help us to counter the increasing technocratic and bureaucratic emphases of primary care in high income countries such as the UK.

The second edition of my book Beyond Depression was published by Oxford University Press in 2009. I contributed to the BMJ ‘Too Much Medicine’ series on the over-medicalisation of depression.

Other interesting things you have done?

My first degree was in modern history at Oxford University. My special interest was in the French Revolution, which has often proved useful in understanding the arcane worlds of university and medical politics! I then trained as a social worker and psychotherapist, working in London, Worcester and Manchester for six years before switching to medicine in my late 20s. Although it's been a rather circuitous career path, I've found all these experiences invaluable to my practice as a GP in north Liverpool.

I was born and brought up in Ireland, and reclaimed my Irish citizenship in protest against British involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

You coordinate the MHGAP consultancies - what are they about?

WONCA has recently set up an international consultancy services in primary mental health care. This is in support of WHO's mhGAP programme, which is scaling up evidence-based interventions to improve community based mental health care in low and middle income countries. We provide advice on policy, education and training and research, see this page for more information. We are currently delivering a 'train the trainers' programme in primary mental health care for GPs in Moldova in eastern Europe. We will be offering an educational event for Brazilian GPs in conjunction with the World WONCA meeting in Rio.

What are your interests outside work?

I have a wonderful extended family, with seven children and (so far) eight grandchildren who keep me continually entertained. I love walking in the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain, where we have a holiday home; I did the Inca Trail a few years ago and have my sights set on a Himalayan trek while I'm still capable. I enjoy reading modern literature and watching Scandinavian detective dramas, and find Test Match cricket endlessly fascinating.