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

Past lectures

On this page you can catch up on the fantastic lectures given at the invitation of our President, Professor Wendy Burn.


Professor Louis Appleby CBE: Things we know about suicide prevention but aren't true’

Date: 6 December 2017

Lecture synopsis

Suicide rates vary by country, within countries and over time, influenced strongly by economic and social factors. What therefore can clinicians do to prevent suicide? This lecture will cover evidence on suicide prevention by health services, especially in mental health, from individual clinical staff to organisations. It will examine suicide by middle-aged men, who have the highest risk, and by young people, who attract the greatest public concern. It will discuss what we mean by risk assessment, whether the answer is in talking, training or something else, and whether suicide ever happens out of the blue. It will ask: Are mental health services in crisis? Does the blame lie with social media? And have the public had enough of experts?

About the speaker

Louis Appleby is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manchester where he leads the Centre on Mental Health and Safety, investigating suicide, homicide and the risks from parental mental illness.  He is Director of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness, a UK-wide study that aims to improve the safety of mental health care. 

From 2000-2010 he was National Director for Mental Health in England, playing a central role in reforming community care.  From 2010-2014 he was National Clinical Director for Health and Justice, leading the development of diversion services for offenders with mental health problems. 

He currently leads the National Suicide Prevention Strategy and is a non-executive director on the Board of the Care Quality Commission.  He was awarded a CBE for services to medicine in 2006.


Joanna Cannon: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

Date: 14 September 2017

Lecture synopsis

In this lecture, Joanna will explain how a love of narrative encouraged her to return to education in her thirties, her unusual route to becoming a doctor, and how she used creative writing as an antidote to life, once she arrived on the wards. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep was inspired by the time she spent working in psychiatry, and was written just for fun, mainly during her lunch breaks. Joanna will discuss the motivation behind the story, why she felt it needed to be written, and the journey of a book written in an NHS car park, which went on to become a Sunday Times bestseller.

About the speaker

Joanna Cannon is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, which has sold over 250,000 copies in the UK alone and is currently published in fifteen countries.


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