Accessibility statement

David Ekers
Honorary Visiting Professor



David is a nurse leader with over 30 years experience in mental health. Since 2002 he has worked as a senior nurse in Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS FT combining clinical, research and leadership roles. David has a strong commitment and passion for improving the access of people to psychological interventions for common mental health disorders. He has been an accredited Cognitive Behavioural therapist since 1997 and led large teams of therapists in both Southampton and County Durham. His current role combines being the Clinical Director for Research and Development alongside the delivery of a number of large scale research projects.

Alongside clinical leadership, David has developed a research portfolio aimed at testing new innovative approaches to improving access to high quality psychological interventions. This has established his reputation as a nurse who is a leader in research, signified by his contribution to a number of national policy and guidance committees for the Department of Health and NICE. David is the Mental Health Speciality Lead for the Clinical Research Network in the North East and North Cumbria. He has contributed to NICE guideline committees on depression and common mental health disorders.

David is recognised internationally as an expert on Behavioural Activation for Depression. Behavioural Activation (BA) is a psychological approach attracting considerable attention due to its potential for cost effective dissemination. His research is highly cited both within the UK and internationally and has led the way in developing the evidence base to support such dissemination. He was the chief investigator of an initial proof of principle randomised controlled trial that was the first to investigate the delivery of BA by non specialist therapists. That study directly informed the design of three large multi centre NIHR HTA funded studies. Findings of these studies are now published in high impact journals and are informing NICE guidance and clinical practice. David is the Chief Investigator of the Multi-Morbidity in Older Adults (MODS) research programme and led the Community Pharmacy Mood Intervention Study (CHEMIST), both funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).


  • PhD – Health Sciences;  University of York 
  • MSc – Research Methods in Health; University of Southampton 
  • Diploma – Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy / ENB 650; Kings College London / Maudsley Hospital London
  • Registered Mental Health Nurse (RMN); Bethlem & Maudsley School of Nursing 




David currently focuses on primary care mental health research at University of York. In particular his interest is improving access to psychological treatments of anxiety and depression.


  • MODS (MultiMorbidity in Older Adults Research programme)
  • BASIL (Behavioural Activation In Social Isolation)
  • COMBAT (Community-based Behavioural Activation Training for Depression in Adolescents)
  • DiaDem (Developing and evaluating an adapted behavioural activation intervention for people with depression and diabetes in South Asia) 
  • BALM (Behavioural Activation for Low Mood and Anxiety in Male Frontline NHS workers
  • Insika Yomama (Evaluation of combined psychological and parenting intervention for HIV positive women depressed in perinatal period in rural South Africa)
  • CASCADE (Case finding for depression in primary care: a regression discontinuity design)

Previous Projects 

  • CASPER (Collaborative cAre in Screen Positive EldeRs)
  • CHEMIST (Community pHarmaciEs Mood intervention STudy)
  • COBRA (Cost and Outcome of Behavioural Activation)

Research group(s)



  • PhD supervision at University of York and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

Other teaching

  • Service based training in accessible psychological  interventions for common mental health problems

External activities


  • Accredited Member – Psychotherapist (Supervision Trained)  British Association of Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapists.
  • Member (previous) -  NIHR HTA Funding Advisory panel
  • Member (previous) -  Newcastle and North Tyneside 1 NHS Research Ethics Committee
  • Member - NICE Guideline Development Group – Depression in Adults 

Invited talks and conferences

  • World Congress of Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy. (2016). Cost and Outcome of Behavioural Activation. Funded international presentation for study results dissemination
  • Behavioural Activation for Psychiatric Nurses. (2015). Invited Presentation to Australian Congress of Mental Health Nurses
  • Invited Discussant. ‘Do we need address cognitions in psychological interventions?’ (2015). British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
  • Chair and convener Primary Care Mental Health Conference. (2015)
  • Chair and discussant for Keynote by Derek Hopko ‘Third Wave CBT for Depression’. BABCP conference (2014)
  • Keynote presentation ‘Nurses and research’ (2014). Network for Psychiatric Nurse Research conference (2014)

Media coverage

  • Twitter: @DavidEkers

Contact details

Professor David Ekers
Honorary Visiting Professor
Health Sciences



Full publications list

  • Noortje P. Janssen, Gert-Jan Hendriks, Renate Sens, Peter Lucassen, Richard C. Oude Voshaar, David Ekers, Harm van Marwijk, Jan Spijker, Judith E. Bosmans. Cost-effectiveness of behavioral activation compared to treatment as usual for depressed older adults in primary care: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Journal of Affective Disorders 2024
  • Jo Smith, Fatemeh Eskandari, Grant J McGeechan, Scott B. Teasdale,  Amelia A. Lake, Suzy Ker, Kevin Williamson, Alex Augustine, Nikita Le Sauvage, Chris Lynch, Hannah Moore, Steph Scott, David Ekers, Vicki Whittaker, Jonathan Robinson, Emma L. Giles. Food insecurity in adults with severe mental illness living in Northern England: A co-produced cross-sectional study. Nutrition & Dietetics 2024; doi:10.1111/1747-0080.12868
  • Simon Gilbody, Elizabeth Littlewood, Dean McMillan, … & David Ekers.  Behavioural activation to mitigate the psychological impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on older people in England and Wales (BASIL+): a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Healthy Longevity 2024;
  • Jennings HM, Anas A, Asmat S, Naz A, Afaq S, Ahmed N, Aslam F, Gomez GZ, Siddiqi N and Ekers, D. Living with depression and diabetes: A qualitative study in Bangladesh and Pakistan. PLOS Glob Public Health 2024
  • Noortje P Janssen, Peter Lucassen, Marcus J H Huibers, David Ekers, Theo Broekman, Judith E Bosmans, Harm Van Marwijk, Jan Spijker, Richard Oude Voshaar, Gert-Jan Hendriks; Behavioural Activation versus Treatment as Usual for Depressed Older Adults in Primary Care: A Pragmatic Cluster-Randomised Controlled Trial. Psychother Psychosom 2023.
  • Gerardo A. Zavala, Hannah Maria Jennings, Saima Afaq, Ashraful Alam, Naveed Ahmed, Faiza Aslam, Aatik Arsh, Karen Coales, David Ekers, Mumtahana Nabi, Anum Naz, Nayeema Shakur, Najma Siddiqi, Judy M. Wright & Ian Kellar (2023) Effectiveness and implementation of psychological interventions for depression in people with non-communicable diseases in South Asia: Systematic review and meta-analysis, International Journal of Mental Health, doi: 10.1080/00207411.2023.2202431
  • Shearsmith L, Coventry PA, Sloan C, Henry A Newbronner L, Littlewood, L Bailey D, Gascoyne S, Burke L, Ryde E, Woodhouse R, McMillan D, Ekers D, Gilbody S, and Chew-Graham C. Acceptability of a behavioural intervention to mitigate the psychological impacts of COVID-19 restrictions in older people with long-term conditions: a qualitative study BMJ Open 2023;13:e064694. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2022-064694
  • Zavala, G.A., Afaq, S., Anas, A. Ahmed, N,. Aslam, F,. B Benkalkar,. Coales,. K, Jennings, H,. Kellar, I,. Nabi, M,. Naz, A,. Shakoor, H, Siddiqi, N, and Ekers, D. Adaptation of a Behavioural Activation Intervention for Depression in People with Diabetes in Bangladesh and Pakistan: DiaDeM Intervention. Glob Implement Res Appl 3, 44–55 (2023).
  •  Kitchen, C. E. W., Lewis, S., Ekers, D., Gega, L., & Tiffin, P. A. (2023). Barriers and enablers for young people, parents and therapists undertaking behavioural activation for depression: A qualitative evaluation within a randomised controlled trial. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 00, 1– 18.
  •  Littlewood E, McMillan D, Chew Graham C, …. Ekers, D and Gilbody, S. et al Can we mitigate the psychological impacts of social isolation using behavioural activation? Long-term results of the UK BASIL urgent public health COVID-19 pilot randomised controlled trial and living systematic review BMJ Evidence Based Mental Health 2022;25:e49-e57.
  • Osvaldo P. Almeida, Hema Patel, Diana Velasquez, Rachael Kelly, Rhoda Lai, Andrew H. Ford, Eleanor Curran, Leon Flicker, Terence W.H. Chong, Christopher Etherton-Beer, Dina LoGiudice, Kathryn A. Ellis, Angelita Martini, Alissa Westphal, David Ekers, Simon Gilbody, Nicola T. Lautenschlager, (2022) Behavioural activation in nursing homes to treat depression (BAN-Dep): Results from a clustered, randomised, single-blinded, controlled clinical trial. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, ISSN 1064-7481.
  • Littlewood E, Chew-Graham CA, Coleman E, Gascoyne S, Sloan C, Ali S,…..Ekers, D,. et al. A psychological intervention by community pharmacies to prevent depression in adults with subthreshold depression and long-term conditions: the CHEMIST pilot RCT. Public Health Res 2022;10(5)
  • Burke L, Littlewood E, Gascoyne S, McMillan D, Chew-Graham CA, Bailey D,…Ekers, D et al. (2022) Behavioural Activation for Social IsoLation (BASIL+) trial (Behavioural activation to mitigate depression and loneliness among older people with long-term conditions): Protocol for a fully-powered pragmatic randomised controlled trial. PLoS ONE 17(3): e0263856.
  • Chew-Graham, C.A., Kitchen, C.E.W., Gascoyne, S…..Ekers, D,. et al. The feasibility and acceptability of a brief psychological intervention for adults with long-term health conditions and subthreshold depression delivered via community pharmacies: a mixed methods evaluation—the Community Pharmacies Mood Intervention Study (CHEMIST). Pilot Feasibility Stud 8, 27 (2022).
  • Gilbody S, Littlewood E, McMillan D, Chew-Graham CA, Bailey D, Gascoyne S,….Ekers,D.. (2021) Behavioural activation to prevent depression and loneliness among socially isolated older people with long-term conditions: The BASIL COVID-19 pilot randomised controlled trial. PLoS Med 18(10): e1003779.
  • Gilbody S, Littlewood E, Gascoyne S, McMillan D, Ekers D, Chew-Graham CA, Creswell C, Wright J. Mitigating the impacts of COVID-19: where are the mental health trials? Lancet Psychiatry. 2021 Aug;8(8):647-650. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(21)00204-2. Epub 2021 Jun 1. PMID: 34087112; PMCID: PMC8169044
  • Tamsen Rochat, Sam Dube, Kobus Herbst et al. An evaluation of a combined psychological and parenting intervention for HIV-positive women depressed in the perinatal period, to enhance child development and reduce maternal depression: Study Protocol for the Insika Yomama Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial, 28 April 2021, PREPRINT (Version 1) available at Research Square []
  • Simon Gilbody, Sally Brabyn, Alex Mitchell, David Ekers, Dean McMillan, Della Bailey, Deborah Hems, Carolyn A. Chew Graham, Ada Keding, Kate Bosanquet, Can We Prevent Depression in At-Risk Older Adults Using Self-Help? The UK SHARD Trial of Behavioral Activation, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2021
  • Uphoff  E, Pires  M, Barbui  C, Barua  D, Churchill  R, Cristofalo  D, Ekers  D, Fottrell  E, Mazumdar  P, Purgato  M, Rana  R, Wright  J, Siddiqi  N. Behavioural activation therapy for depression in adults with non‐communicable diseases. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD013461. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013461.pub2. Accessed 21 July 2021
  • Eddy E, Heron P, McMillan D, Dawson S, Ekers D, Hickin N, Littlewood E, Shafran R, Meader N, Gilbody S. Cognitive or behavioural interventions (or both) to prevent or mitigate loneliness in adolescents, adults, and older adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD013791. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013791. Accessed 26 April 2022
  • Arnott, B., Kitchen, C.E.W., Ekers, D., Gega, L. & Tiffin, P. (2020). Behavioural activation for overweight and obese adolescents with low mood delivered in a community setting: feasibility study. BMJ Paediatrics Open; 4:e000624. doi: 10.1136/bmjpo-2019-000624
  • Uphoff  E, Ekers  D, Robertson  L, Dawson  S, Sanger  E, South  E, Samaan  Z, Richards  D, Meader  N, Churchill  R. Behavioural activation therapy for depression in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD013305. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013305.pub2
  • Kitchen, C.E.W., Tiffin, P.A., Lewis, S., Gega, L. and Ekers, D. (2020), Innovations in Practice: A randomised controlled feasibility trial of Behavioural Activation as a treatment for young people with depression. Child Adolesc Ment Health. doi:10.1111/camh.12415
  • Brown J, Walton N, Meader N, Todd A, Webster LAD, Steele R, Sampson SJ, Churchill R, McMillan D, Gilbody S, Ekers D. Pharmacy-based management for depression in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD013299. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD013299.pub2
  • Finning,K ,. Richards, D,. Moore, L,. Ekers, D,. McMillan,D,. Farrand,P,. Et al. Cost and outcome of behavioural activation versus cognitive behavioural therapy for depression (COBRA): a qualitative process evaluation. BMJ Open. 2017 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014161
  • Richards DA, Rhodes S, Ekers D, McMillan D, Taylor RS, Byford S, et al. Cost and Outcome of BehaviouRal Activation (COBRA): a randomised controlled trial of behavioural activation versus cognitive behavioural therapy for depression. Health Technol Assess 2017;21(46)
  • Finning,K ,. Richards, D,. Moore, L,. Ekers, D,. McMillan,D,. Farrand,P,. O'Mahen, H,. Watkins, E,. Wright, K,. Fletcher,E,. Rhodes, E,. Woodhouse,R, and  Wray,F. (2017). Cost and outcome of behavioural activation versus cognitive behavioural therapy for depression (COBRA): a qualitative process evaluation. BMJ Open. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014161
  • Gilbody,. S, Lewis, H., Adamson J., Atherton, K., Bailey, D., Birstwistle, J., Bosanquet, K., Clare, E., Delgadillo, J., Ekers, D., Foster, D., Gabe, R., Gascoyne, S., Haley, L., Hamilton, J., Hargate, R., Hewitt, C., Holmes, J., Keding, A., Lilley-Kelly, A., Meer, S., Mitchell, N., Overend, K., Pasterfield, M., Pervin, J., Richards, D., Spilsbury, K., Traviss-Turner, G., Trepel, D., Woodhouse, R., Ziegler, F., & McMillan, D. (2017). Effect of collaborative care vs. usual care on depressive symptoms in older adults with subthreshold depression: The CASPER Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 317, 728-737
  • Lewis H, Adamson J, Atherton K, Bailey D, Birtwistle J, Bosanquet K, Clare E, Delgadillo J, Ekers D, Foster D, Gabe R, Gascoyne S, Haley L, Hargate R, Hewitt C, Holmes J, Keding A, Lilley-Kelly A, Maya J, McMillan D, Meer S, Meredith J, Mitchell N, Nutbrown S, Overend K, Pasterfield M, Richards D, Spilsbury K, Torgerson D, Traviss-Turner G, Trépel D, Woodhouse R, Ziegler F & Gilbody S.. CollAborative care and active surveillance for Screen-Positive EldeRs with subthreshold depression (CASPER): a multicentred randomised controlled trial of clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Health Technol Assess 2017;21(8)
  • Richards DA, Ekers D, McMillan D, Taylor RS, Byford S, Warren FC, Barrett B, Farrand PA, Gilbody S, Kuyken W, O’Mahen H, Watkins ER, Wright KA, Hollon SD, Reed N, Rhodes S, Fletcher E, Finning K (2016)Cost and Outcome of Behavioural Activation versus Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depression (COBRA): a randomised, controlled, non-inferiority trial.  The Lancet, 388, 10047, 27 August–2 September 2016, 871–880
  • Webster, L. Ekers, D and Chew Graham, C. (2016). Feasibility of training practice nurses to deliver a psychosocial intervention within a collaborative care framework for people with depression and long-term conditions. BMC Nursing. 15:71.  DOI 10.1186/s12912-016-0190-2
  • Hardy, S,.  Al Shamari, B,. Al Matawa, M,. Mathias, J,. Ekers, D,. Gellatly, J,. Figgins, N,. And Grey, R. (2015). Can Behavioural Activation Be Used As An Alternative Treatment For Subthreshold Depression In Type 2 Diabetes?  Mental Health in Family Medicine. 11. 49-52
  • Delgadillo, J,. Gore S,. Ali, S,. Ekers, D,. Gilbody, S,.Gilchrist, G,. McMillan, D,. Hughes, E,. (2015). Feasibility randomized controlled trial of cognitive and behavioral interventions for depression symptoms in patients accessing drug and alcohol treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 55. 6-14
  • Bosanquet, K. Mitchell, N. Gabe, R. Lewis, H. McMillan, D. Ekers, D. Bailey, D and Gilbody, S. (2015)  Diagnostic accuracy of the Whooley depression tool in older adults in UK primary care. Journal of Affective Disorders. 182 39–43
  • Masterson, C. Ekers, D.Gilbody, S. Richards, D. Toner-Clewes, B. and McMillan, D. (2014). Sudden gains in behavioural activation for depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 60. 34-38
  • Ekers D, Webster L, Cuijpers P, Van Straten A, Richards D and Gilbody S. (2014). Behavioural activation for depression; an update of meta-analysis of effectiveness and sub group analysis. PLoS ONE. 9(6): e100100. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100100
  • Murphy, R. Ekers, D and Webster, L. (2014). An update to depression case management by practice nurses in primary care: a service evaluation. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. doi: 10.1111/jpm.12153
  • Rhodes, R. Richards, D. Ekers, D. McMillan, D. Byford, S. Farrand, P. Gilbody, S. Kuyken, W. Martell, C. O’Mahen, H. O’Neill, E. Reed, N. Taylor, R. Watkins, E. and Wright, K. (2014).  Cost and outcome of behavioural activation versus cognitive behaviour therapy for depression (COBRA): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials 2014, 15:29
  • Ekers D, and Webster L. (2013) An overview of the effectiveness of psychological therapy for depression and stepped care service delivery models Journal of Research in Nursing. 18(2) 171–184
  • Ekers, D. Murphy, R. Archer, J. Ebenezer, C. Kemp, D. Gilbody S. (2013) Nurse-delivered collaborative care for depression and long-term physical conditions: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders. 149. 14-22
  • Ekers D, Dawson, M and Bailey, L. (2012).Dissemination of Behavioural Activation for depression to mental health nurses. Training evaluation and benchmarked clinical outcomes. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing.  20 186-192
  • Ekers D, Godfrey C, Gilbody S, Parrott S, Richards D, Hammond D and Hayes A. (2011). Cost utility of Behavioural Activation delivered by the non-specialist. British journal of psychiatry.199. 510-511
  • Mitchell, N., Hewitt, C., Adamson, J., Parrott, S. Torgerson, D., Ekers, D., Holmes, J., Lester, H., McMillan, D., Richards D., Spilsbury, K., Godfrey, C & Gilbody, S. (2011). A randomised evaluation of CollAborative care and active surveillance for Screen-Positive EldeRs with sub-threshold depression (CASPER): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 12: 225
  • Ekers D, Richards D, McMillan D, Bland M, Gilbody S. (2011) Behavioural Activation delivered by the non specialist: phase II randomised controlled trial. British journal of psychiatry; 198(1): 66-72
  • Houghton S, Curran J and Ekers D. (2011). Behavioural Activation in the treatment of depression.  Mental health practice. 14 (7).18-23
  • Ekers, D Richards, D and Gilbody S. (2008). A Meta Analysis of Randomised Trials of Behavioural Treatment of Depression. Psychological Medicine. 38(5) 611-623
  • Ekers, D and Wilson, W. (2008). Depression case management in primary care by practice nurses: an audit. Mental Health in Family Medicine. 5(2) 111-119
  • Gamble C, Ekers D and Callaghan P. (2008). Nurse consultants and the research community. Mental Health Practice. 11(10) 32-35
  • Ekers, D & Richards, D. (2007). Anxiety and Depression in Primary Care. Primary Health Care. 17 (4). 36-39
  • Ekers D, Richards D, Grant H. (2007). Developing depression management in primary care. Primary Health Care. 17(8): 31-33
  • Ekers, D. Lovell, K. & Payle, J. (2007). The use of CBT based, brief, facilitated self-help interventions in primary care mental health service provision: Evaluation of a 10-day training programme. Clinical Effectiveness in Nursing. 9S1, e88–e96
  • Ekers D, Preston J. Depression Case Management In Practice. Its Role and Development in a Stepped Care System. (2006). Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry. 10(7):31-6
  • Ekers D & Fletcher, J. (2005). Learning About Depression care management from Health Maintenance Organisations in the USA. Journal of Mental Health Nursing .  25 (2). 16-19
  • Lovell, K. Ekers, D. Fulford, A & Bagley, (2004). C. Pilot of Self-Help Manual  & Short Appointments in The Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Specialist CBT Services. Clinical Effectiveness in Nursing. 8. 122-127
  • Ekers. D. Schlich. T. & Carmen. S. (2004). Successful Outcome of Exposure and Response Prevention in the Treatment of  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in A Patient with Schizophrenia. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy. 32. 375-378
  • Ekers, D. & Kingdon, D. (2003). Can Cognitive behavioural Psychotherapy Assist Adherence to fluid Restriction with Dialysis Patients: A case series. Clinical Effectiveness in Nursing.  7. 15-17
  • Ekers D, Lovell K & Richards D. (2002). Treatment for agoraphobia with a self-help treatment manual and telephone guidance: A Case Study. Journal of Mental Health Nursing 22 (3) 18-21 

Book Chapters

  • Curran, J Ekers, D McMillan, D and Houghton, S. (2012) Behavioural activation. In Cognitive Behaviour Therapies (Ed Dryden, W). Sage. London, UK
  • Ekers, D. (2010) Training depression case managers. In Oxford Guide to Low Intensity CBT Interventions(Eds, Bennet-levy, J., Richards, D., Christensen, C., Farrand, P., Griffiths, K., Kavanagh, D., Klein, B., Proudfoot, J., Ritterband, L., White, J. and Williams, C.) Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK
  • Ekers, D & Ricketts T (2008). Primary Care. In Brooker, C & Repper, J Eds. Mental health from Policy to Practice. Elsevier, UK