Dr Persaud first joined the NHS in 1974 as a porter and then worked as a care assistant. He studied for his professional psychiatric qualifications and went on to work in public health medicine, joining the Mental Health policy branch of the Department of Health, crafting and developing a number of mental health policy reforms during the late 1990s and through the 2000s. This work included developing and consulting upon the Mental Health Act 2007 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. He was one of the founders of the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) which was established following the National Service Framework for Mental Health to support the implementation of evidence-based practice. He is a lifelong campaigner in equalities and health and a proponent of cultural psychiatry.
He also crafted, co-authored and co-edited the Mental Health Legislation Resource, an introductory compendium of some of the most commonly used legislation in mental health and has written many papers in the areas of culture and mental health, post natal depression, and the law and clinical practice. He is a member of the Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC), a trustee of the Long Term Medical Condition Alliance (LMCA), is acting Vice-Chair of the Depression Alliance UK and Chair of the GAMIAN Europe Scientific Committee (Global Alliance for Mental Health Advocacy Networks).
He also serves on the advisory board of the South Asian Health Foundation, as well as a number of other scientific committees and boards including the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry, the World Health Organisation and the European Co-operation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research Committee. He is also a founding member of Primary Care Mental Health and Education (PRImhE) which promotes the development of primary mental health care evidence-based practice.