Sheila Hollins, professor of psychiatry of learning disability at St George’s, University of London, has been appointed to the House of Lords – the UK parliament’s upper chamber – and awarded the title of Baroness. The accolade recognises her contribution to learning disability and mental health in the UK.

Baroness Hollins, who has worked at St George’s since 1981, was named a life peer as a crossbencher – a non-party-political peer – by the House of Lords Appointments Commission today (Tuesday 5 October).


Throughout her career, which began as an academic at St George’s, Baroness Hollins has worked with people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. Her research, academic work and high profile posts have influenced policy and practice in these areas.
She said that she was “thrilled by her appointment” and is “looking forward to joining esteemed peers including Lord Rix and Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, to speak on behalf of people with learning disabilities as part of my responsibilities as a crossbencher”.
Over the last three decades, Baroness Hollins has conducted and contributed to research into clinical and social aspects of the mental and physical health of people with learning disabilities, with a particular focus on bereavement, palliative care and sexual abuse. She also worked as a consultant psychiatrist in south west London between 1982 and 2006.

Since 2008, she has served as the chair of the World Health Organisation’s Euro Steering Group to develop a declaration and action plan on the health of children and young people with intellectual disabilities. She has also worked in a number of national advisory board roles, including as a member of the independent inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities (2007-08), and was president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2005-08).
Principal Professor Peter Kopelman congratulated Baroness Hollins on her award and commented: “I speak for everyone at St George’s when I say we’re extremely proud of Sheila’s appointment to the House of Lords. Sheila has made a huge contribution to work and thinking within her field of expertise, which has, in turn, made a difference to the lives of many individuals with learning disability and mental health issues. This fitting accolade will enable her to make an effective and significant contribution to the work of the House of Lords.”
Baroness Hollins has also edited and written specialist books for people with, and affected by, mental health and learning disability. Most notably, these include Books Beyond Words – a series of books on health and social topics for adults who cannot read – and You and Your Child with a Learning Disability, co-authored with her husband, education specialist Martin Hollins.