Simon Wessely is Professor of Psychological Medicine and Vice Dean at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine, and Honorary Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at King’s and Maudsley Hospitals. He is Director of the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) at King’s College London, and of the Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health (ACDMH), a partnership between MOD and King’s College London. He is Honorary Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry for the British Army, and a member of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council. He is one of the new Foundation Senior Investigators of the National Institute of Health Research, and is a Trustee of the charity Combat Stress. He was elected President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists early in 2014.
His research interests are in the grey areas between medicine and psychiatry, clinical epidemiology, psychiatric injury and military health. His first paper was called Dementia and Mrs Thatcher, but since then he has published over 750 papers on many subjects, including epidemiology, post-traumatic stress, psychological debriefing, chronic fatigue syndrome, history, chronic pain, somatisation, Gulf War illness, shell shock, military health and terrorism.
In 2006 the unit published the first results of a study of the physical and psychological health of 12,000 UK military personnel, half of whom served in the Iraq conflict. The principal results were that there has been no repeat of the Gulf War Syndrome saga, that there is no increase in psychiatric disorders in Regular forces, but an increase in some mental health problems in Reserve forces who took part in TELIC.
Professor Wessely has recently co authored books on chronic fatigue syndrome, the randomised controlled trial in psychiatry, and a new history of shell shock – but none has yet reached the best-seller lists. He is more proud of the fact, contrary to the expectations of his friends and family, he has now completed the Pedal to Paris to raise money for the Royal British Legion for the seventh time, although Paris gets further away each year.