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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Returning from Philadelphia

I've left the APA conference in Philadelphia now, and will be stopping by the College before heading back home. I attended so many interesting sessions and talks, some of which I blogged about earlier in the week. Another highlight was the Convocation Lecture given by Edward Kennedy Jr, who gave an impassioned and informed delivery on how, why and what we should be doing to ensure the needs of those people with physical and learning disabilities and mental illness are met. 

But perhaps the most valuable part of the trip was the opportunity to catch up with so many fellow psychiatrists from across the world, especially those I had only previously been in contact with by email. The challenges we face are very similar to those being faced in the US. It is also apparent that ways of working (if I can use that phrase) that have been commonplace in the UK (i.e. multi-disciplinary and cross-agency working) are, in many places in the USA, still in their infancy.

Liberty Bell - APA 2012I managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing, including a visit to Liberty Bell, the symbol of American independence. As you can see from the photograph, it was surrounded by people - mainly teenagers - keen to take photos and have their photos taken in front of it. The pageantry of yesterday's state opening of parliament did make the American news and received a deal of coverage - but not necessarily a great deal of understanding!

Listening to the Queen's Speech, I was pleased to see the inclusion of legislation looking at adult social care, albeit only in draft form which will mean that a full bill will not see the light of day for some time, and hope that the issue is not kicked into the long grass. I hope that the forthcoming White Paper on the same subject will include the issue of funding for social care, an area which was somewhat lacking in yesterday's speech.

The Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill is due to reintroduced to the House of Lords, following support from the government last year and is likely receive its first reading on 15 May, before beginning its journey through Parliament. The College has been committed to the anti-stigma aims of this Bill from its outset and look forward to continuing to work closely with Lord Stevenson and others to ensure it reaches the statute book.


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