Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Professor Max Birchwood

Job Title
WMS - Health Sciences
Web Link
Research Interests

My interests include prevention and early intervention in severe mental health problems, particularly as they emerge in young people: 1. The next generation of early intervention psychosis teams; application of the the early intervention in psychosis model across the spectrum of youth mental health. 2.Affective dysregulation in psychosis including depression, social anxiety and PTSD. 3.Developing and testing the cognitive model of voices. My trial of CBT to reduce harmful compliance with commanding hallucinations was published in Lancet Psychiatry. 4.Developing collaborative care between primary and secondary care in the management of severe mental illness. 5. School-based early detection and intervention in emerging mental health problems in adolescence, including eating disorders and self-harm.


Max Birchwood pioneered the concept and practice of early intervention in psychosis in the UK and internationally and opened the UK's first Early Intervention in Psychosis service in 1994, informed by his concept of the 'critical period' in psychosis, which he translated into the mental health policy framework for the UK government as part of the NHS 'National Plan'. The service has been replicated with over 140 teams across the country and many internationally. His research on delays in pathways to these services informed the current wait time standards for early psychosis teams. He led the national evaluation of these services through the NIHR National EDEN and SUPEREDEN programme grants. Max was the recipient of the Richard Wyatt award for 'outstanding contribution to early psychosis research and treatment', by the IEPA ( ). He went on to apply this model to the spectrum of mental health problems affecting youth and was instrumental in developing the Birmingham 0-25yrs service framework combining CAMHS and young adult services ( currently operated by 'Forward Thinking Birmingham) and led the evaluation of this service. He has worked with commissioners in Shropshire and South staffs and Gloucestershire in designing and commissioning similar services and chairs the stakeholder group. The 0-25 framework has been developed now in Coventry, Norfolk, Liverpool, Somerset with further services in the pipeline. He has undertaken leading edge research into the application of CBT to psychosis: his RCTs in acute psychosis (1996; 2000), in reducing harmful compliance with command hallucinations (2004,2013), and in high social disability in early psychosis (2018) and collaborative RCTs in high risk psychosis (2012), are regarded as breakthrough trials and have been incorporated into UK NICE guidelines for schizophrenia. His pioneering work on early signs of psychotic relapse has recently been translated into practice in the EMPOWER trial in conjuntion with Andrew Gumley (CI) in Glasgow and published in Lancet Psychiatry in 2022. He has also undertaken extensive work developing the cognitive model of 'voices' , particularly the role of appraisals of voices' power and their role in driving affective dysregulation and compliance with command hallucinations. Max heads the mental health theme of the NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands (2014-2019). Max was a member of the NICE guideline development group for schizophrenia in children and young people (2013) and adults (2014). He has published over 300 papers and books with a Google Scholar H-index of 82.

Title Funder Award start Award end
ARC 2018: NIHR Applied Research Collaborations National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Oct 2019 30 Sep 2024
Full stage NIHR HTA via Birmingham. Anti DEpressants for the Prevention of depression following First Episode Psychosis (ADEPP) National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Nov 2019 31 Dec 2023
Optimising key components of the community mental health policy through implementation of the PARTNERS intervention: learning about personalisation, integration and team-based supervision National Institute for Health Research (NIHR DoH) 01 Jun 2021 31 May 2022
Parenting Intervention to Prevent Effective Disorders (PIPA) (2nd Stage Application) National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Sep 2018 31 May 2022
NIHR WIC Extension National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Jul 2020 31 Jan 2022
PARTNERS2 extension National Institute for Health Research (NIHR DoH) 01 Jun 2019 28 Feb 2021
NIHR PGfAR via South London and Maudesley NHS Trust: Building Resilience and Recovery through Enhancing Cognition and quality of LIfe in the early PSychosEs (ECLIPSE) National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 18 Dec 2014 16 Nov 2020
ECLIPSE: Variation to collaboration agreement National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 May 2019 30 Apr 2020
A new mental health 0-19 crisis service model for Children and Young people (CYP), and its effectiveness in promoting recovery, resilience and prevention of future mental health crises. Mendip Media Group Ltd 01 Aug 2018 31 Jan 2020
CLAHRC Theme 2 Research 2019 National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Jan 2019 30 Sep 2019
CLAHRC West Midlands Central Theme 2: Prevention and Early Intervention in Youth Mental Health. National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Oct 2018 30 Sep 2019
CLAHRC 2 Theme 2 - Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West Midlands: TUPE of staff and budget from BSMHFT issued as a Variation (2) to the original CLAHRC2 contract National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Jan 2016 31 Mar 2019
PARTNERS 2: development and pilot trial of primary care based collaborative care for people with serious mental illness National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Mar 2014 28 Feb 2019
CLARCH 2 National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Jan 2014 31 Dec 2018
Developing Virtual Reality interventions for social cognition and social anxiety difficulties in early psychosis MQ 01 Dec 2016 31 Oct 2018
CLAHRC-WM- RCF. Mental health theme budget. Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust 30 Sep 2016 31 Aug 2018
CLAHRC West Midlands Central Theme 2: Prevention and Early Intervention in Youth Mental Health National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Apr 2017 31 Mar 2018
NIHR FULL via Univ of Glasgow: EMPOWER: Early signs Monitoring to prevent relapse an PrOmote Wellbeing, Engagement and Recovery National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 01 Sep 2015 28 Feb 2018
Birmingham Tender- Impact and process evaluation of the Birmingham 0-25 Mental Health Service. Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG 01 Jul 2015 31 Dec 2016
NIHR BBC CLARHC National Institute for Health Research (DoH) 18 Nov 2013 31 Dec 2013