Karen is a Senior Lecturer at the Health Services Management Centre and an Associate of the Institute for Mental Health at the University of Birmingham.

Karen originally qualified and worked as a clinical psychologist in the NHS, and is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare. From 2006-2008, Karen co-led the gender equality programme for the National Institute for Mental Health England.

Karen has a PhD in mental health policy and has undertaken research on specific inequalities and methods for achieving greater equality; including mental health advocacy with African Caribbean men, social care for asylum seekers and refugees, community support for women experiencing poor mental health and the implications of diverse conceptions of mental health and wellbeing for prevention. All of this research has been participatory, in partnership with community organisations and service users/survivors.

Karen was an advisor to Aawaz, the Voice of Asian Women across Lancashire and from 2012-2017, a Trustee of Healthy Minds, a service user led charity. Karen has published widely and in 2017 was recognised by the University of Birmingham for her impact on public policy.