Meet the leadership team

We’re governed by a voluntary Board of Trustees who ensure our strategy for the future is aligned with our purpose and mission. Our dedicated leadership team take this strategy and make it happen in reality. Meet some of the leadership team who are behind Mental Health UK.

Senior management team

Brian Dow – Chief Executive

Brian Dow is Chief Executive of Mental Health UK and the Deputy Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness.

Brian is a member of the NHS Assembly which advises the board of NHS England on delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan and is also an independent member of the Lloyds of London ESG committee.  He also represents Rethink Mental Illness on the Richmond Group, a collaboration of leading health and social care charities.

He began his career as a broadcast journalist in Scotland later moving to the BBC in London. He has spent 20 years in the voluntary sector with organisations including Shelter, the School Food Trust and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Deidre Bowen – Director of National Programmes

Deidre has over 15 years’ experience in the third sector after a former career in Law. She leads the delivery of Mental Health UK’s programmes including our flagship service, Mental Health & Money Advice, the first UK-wide service aimed at improving both financial and mental wellbeing. Deidre’s role also encompasses overseeing the development of innovative new services and solutions at scale.

Prior to working directly in mental health, Deidre held various leadership positions where holistic support to local communities was a focal point. Most recently, as Chief Executive Officer of a Nottingham based charity.

Deidre is also a trustee at a small grass roots charity.

James Harris - Director of Communications and Campaigns

James is a senior campaigns and communications professional who has worked on some of the highest profile issues in the third sector.

He joined Rethink Mental Illness in 2017 and is responsible for brand & design, campaigns, digital communications, internal communications, marketing, media and membership.

In 2023, James took up the expanded role of Director of Communications and Campaigns at both Rethink Mental Illness and Mental Health UK. James manages to crowbar references to West Ham United into most things, including this bio!

Management team

Aisling Traynor - Head of Advice and Training

Aisling oversees the work of the training team which provides expert mental health training to organisations in the private, public and third sector. Aisling also oversees the Advice and Information service and is able bring the experience of working with those directly affected by mental illness into training delivery; combining theoretical and real-life experiences to deliver the highest quality evidence-based courses.

Before joining Mental Health UK in 2021, Aisling worked in Higher Education and Housing where she developed a passion for supporting people with their mental health. Most recently, she led a service for students at 24 universities in London supporting them to find safe housing, running a housing advice service and delivering 50+ events each year for students, landlords and professionals.

Anant Naik - Head of Communications and Marketing

As Head of Marketing and Communications at Mental Health UK, Anant oversees all elements of our marketing, communications and campaigns to key audiences. He is responsible for raising the charity’s profile through effective, measurable strategies, and by maximising our digital channels as best we can to leverage our partnerships, services, and fundraising – with the aim of supporting our founding charities to be able to deliver for our beneficiaries locally.

Anant brings over a decades’ worth of experience in communications, marketing, digital, editorial, press and PR to Mental Health UK, having previously held strategic roles at Rethink Mental Illness, Gingerbread and the National Union of Students.

Away from the office, he is a lover of music, media, sport, cooking, and travel, amongst other things.

Charlene Marks - Head of Mental Health and Money Advice

Charlene leads the Mental Health and Money Advice service at Mental Health UK, the first UK-wide service aimed at improving both financial and mental wellbeing. Charlene is responsible for overseeing the service as well as designing and implementing advancements to it.

Prior to joining Mental Health UK, Charlene spent over 16 years in the charity sector. She began her career as a volunteer adviser at an advice charity alongside her Law degree, where she developed a passion to make a difference.

She brings experience of understanding the issues faced by those with mental health issues into service delivery, as well as leading on innovative ways to deliver good quality advice.

Claire Neal - Head of Workplace Mental Health

Claire joined Mental Health UK in 2021 with over 20 years’ experience in the Employee Assistance Programme sector. She has worked as a counsellor, case manager, account manager and business development manager.  She has been a member of EAPA UK for 15 years and has spent time on their Board.

With a strong background in both counselling and psychology Claire brings specialist knowledge and a naturally consultative approach.

She has supported individual employees and worked closely with senior management, human resources, occupational health professionals, trade unions and health and safety groups to deliver effective workplace mental health programmes to organisations in a wide range of industry sectors.

Jeremy Bernhaut - Head of Policy and Influencing

Jeremy leads on policy influencing for Mental Health UK and our partner Rethink Mental Illness. His teams work closely with colleagues in communications, campaigns and co-production to elevate the voice of lived experience to those with the power to bring about larger scale improvements to mental health such as government officials and ministers.

He has a background in service development and policy influencing in charities for often marginalised people such as refugees, asylum seekers and people experiencing rough sleeping.

Kat Allin - Head of Media

Kat leads media activity for Mental Health UK. She is also Head of Media at our partner charity Rethink Mental Illness, responsible for promoting the charity’s campaigns, services, and expertise across print, online and broadcast media. Central to this is ensuring that the voice of lived experience is represented in the conversation about mental health.

Prior to joining the mental health sector Kat worked in disability sport, supporting media operations for the British team across four Paralympic Games, from London 2012 through to PyeongChang 2018, when she was Chief Press Officer.

Tom O'Connor – Head of Programmes

Tom is an experienced project manager with a background in the charity sector and expertise in rights-based programming and results-based management, evaluation and learning.

As Head of Programmes, Tom manages Mental Health UK’s relationship with its founding charities and oversees a number of programmes including Clic, Rural Connections, and Helping Communities Prosper. Tom also leads on monitoring impact and results, identifying how the charity has had a positive impact on people and communities and ensuring we continue to deliver against our strategy.

Prior to joining Mental Health UK, Tom worked in international development, overseeing community projects in East Africa and leading evaluations to assess their impact on health and wellbeing, access to services and understanding of human rights.