JUNE McKERROW has been director of the Mental Health Foundation since 1992. She previously worked for 25 years in housing and homelessness, most recently at Stonham establishing community-based alternatives to institutional living for people with special needs.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at work?

Have breakfast, check the diary and take a deep breath.

What do you like/dislike about your job?

I like working for an organisation that has the freedom to decide what role it will play, who it will work with and how it will do it. But that means all the drive and energy has to be internally generated and there is no one else to blame if you do not achieve.

What do your colleagues think of you?

Like the curate's egg, I suspect.

What is your proudest achievement?

To date, my last job. But I'm hoping that my proudest achievement is still in front of me.

What is your tip for success?

If you're defining success in the narrow, work sense, then it's simple: grab every opportunity and be prepared to work harder than you want to. Now, success as a human being, that's quite another matter.

What has been your worst business mistake?

Putting my faith in a fundraising guru.

What do you do to relax?

One of the advantages of middle age is not worrying about being thought sad for extolling the virtues of things like gardening, painting and going for long walks.

What book has influenced you?

There have been so many, but two that have recently helped me understand things differently are, The Culture of Contentment by JK Galbraith and Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane.

How would you like to be remembered?

As having had a go.

Which person in the NHS do you most admire?

Those users of mental health services who are prepared to use their wisdom and experience to improve understanding of severe mental illness and to extend the range and effectiveness of the treatments and therapies provided.

What would make the biggest single improvement to the NHS?

A greater willingness to explore and understand the role that so called 'alternative and complementary' therapies could play in almost every aspect of healthcare.

Who is your ideal health secretary?