Chairman Joe Rafferty wearing a suit and tieFounder Member and Chair

Dr. Joe Rafferty CBE is the Chair and one of the founding members of the Zero Suicide Alliance.

He is currently Chief Executive Officer of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust which delivers mental health, learning disability and community physical health services to the people of Merseyside and parts of Lancashire.

Before coming to Mersey Care Joe was Director of Commissioning Support at the NHS Commissioning Board, having national responsibility for the design and delivery of a significant component of the commissioning side reforms outlined in the White Paper: Liberating the NHS.  Prior to this, he was seconded from the Chief Executive role at NHS Central Lancashire, to become the Director of Commissioning Development for NHS North West, with a remit to lead the development of commissioning reforms across the North West of England

From 2007 to 2010 he was the Chief Executive of NHS Central Lancashire, with an annual commissioning budget of £750m. During his tenure, NHS Central Lancashire became the most improved PCT in the North West and one of the most improved in England, according to the World Class Commissioning national assessment.  Joe was the Regional Director of Commissioning and Strategy for NHS North West from 2006-2008.  Other Board-level roles have included Director of Performance in Cumbria and Lancashire SHA and Director of System Reform at Bolton Hospital NHS Trust. Prior to these roles he was part of the team that set up Greater Manchester SHA.

Joe joined the NHS in 1999 as a National Trainee on the NHS General Management Training Scheme  and previously worked at a post-doctoral level as a team leader in molecular genetics at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research in Manchester and before that at Strangeway’s Research Laboratory in Cambridge.

He was awarded a CBE in March 2020 for services to mental health and suicide prevention.

Elaine Darbyshire wearing formal attire smiling at the camera.Founder Member and Senior Responsible Officer

Elaine is one of the founder members of the Zero Suicide Alliance and is the Executive lead and Senior Responsible Officer for the Alliance which is hosted by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

As an Executive Director of Mersey Care, Elaine leads the communications, corporate governance and engagement functions for the trust, ensuring that service user and carer voices are heard and acted upon throughout all of the mental health and community services provided by Mersey Care across Merseyside and in Lancashire. She has latterly also added estates and facilities to her portfolio and leads an innovative programme of service user driven design for trust facilities. 

Prior to joining Mersey Care in 2013, Elaine was Director of NHS Communications at NHS England (North, Midlands & East England).  From 2011-2012 she was the Director of Communications for NHS North of England, covering the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber areas of England.  From 2009-2011 she was the Director of Strategic Communications of NHS North West. Prior to joining the NHS in 2009, she worked for Guardian Media Group’s Regional Division for 22 years in a number of posts including Marketing Director, Communications and Public Affairs Director. She was a Non-Executive Director at East Cheshire NHS Trust (2007-2009) and is currently a trustee of Medcare, a small charity supporting children’s health in Uganda.

From 2014-15 she was appointed as Deputy Director of Communications at the Department of Health for the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge.

Her wider portfolio includes service user and carer engagement via the Life Rooms, a network of prevention, recovery and social inclusion centres owned and operated by Mersey Care. She also has executive responsibility for business and commercial development, programme management and she is the Executive lead for Freedom to Speak up at the trust.

Steve Mallen wearing formal attireFounder Member

Steve Mallen is a co-Founder of the Zero Suicide Alliance and a member of the National Suicide Prevention Group within the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) with oversight of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide & Safety in Mental Health (NCISH).  Following a long corporate career in the international chartered surveying and fund management industries, Steve is now a committed mental health campaigner and reformer.  Steve lost his 18 year old son, Edward to suicide in 2015.  Steve works closely with NHS England, the Department of Education (DfE) and the Health Select Committee (HSC) and he is also a Governor at Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT).  He works closely with several mental health and suicide prevention charities.  A member of The National Children’s Bureau (NCB), Steve is also the Chairman of The MindEd Trust, a charity focused on mental health in children and young people.

Geraldine Strathdee sat down smilingFounder Member

Dr. Geraldine Strathdee C.B.E. O.B.E. Hon. FRCPsych has had a portfolio career as a frontline NHS clinician, and as an academic, medical manager, policy maker, regulator, global improvement consultant, and leader innovator.

Her career has been committed to tackling the preventable causes of mental ill health in populations, developing leaders with the skills to increase equitable access to high quality, effective safe services, in the best of modern estates with digital and technology innovations. She is passionate about empowering patients and staff to develop their potential, and the promotion of kind, compassionate, least restrictive care, that achieves optimal social and clinical outcomes for patients and high quality job roles for staff.

Geraldine’s previous roles include  being the National Clinical Director for Mental Health for England; National Clinical Lead at the National Mental Health Intelligence Network and the London SHA Medical Director for mental health & dementia.

Current roles include as the National Professional Adviser at the Care Quality Commission, Non-Executive Director at South London and Maudsley NHSFT, Non-Executive Director, Community Health Partnerships, Vice Patron of the Poppy Factory, Co-founder of the Zero Suicide Alliance, Visiting Professor of integrated care at University College London, and a range of global mental health improvement programmes.

Geraldine has been recognised for her distinguished career as a psychiatrist and as a clinical leader, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists Rehabilitation faculty Lifetime achievement award in 2019, and being named the Psychiatrist of the Year for 2012 and an honorary fellow by the RCPsych since 2017.