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

A great week for mental health on TV

Thursday, 25 July 2013


Mental health and psychiatry on the small screen


What a week it’s been for mental health and psychiatry on TV. On Wednesday, BBC Three broadcast Rachel Bruno: My Dad and Me, a powerful and thought-provoking documentary in which the 26-year old daughter of boxer Frank Bruno set out to discover the truth about her father’s bipolar disorder. Dr Mark Salter, one of the College’s long-standing media experts, took part. You can watch again on BBC iPlayer – keep an eye out for mark at 24 minutes and 50 minutes.

And last night, Newsnight aired a special report on electroconvulsive therapy (starts 18 minutes in). Professor Ian Reid, Chair of our Special Committee on ECT and Related Treatments, took part in what was a really excellent and balanced report on the treatment.

And that’s not all. In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed watching the programmes aired as part of BBC Three’s It’s a Mad World season, including Diaries of a Broken Mind and the three-part series Don’t Call Me Crazy set in Manchester’s McGuiness Unit.

Perhaps at last we are seeing signs of a change - with an growing number of TV programmes tackling some of these really difficult issues in an thoughtful, open, and balanced way. Not only are they giving time to mental health, they are giving time to psychiatrists to explain what mental illness is, how it can be treated, and how decisions can be made by health professionals working I partnership with patients and carers. I very much hope there will be more to come.


A series of meetings

I had many good meetings this week, including two governance meetings for the College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH). These both emphasised how much really positive work they undertake under the umbrella of the College. I also had meetings of both political party taskforces on mental health (which are always fascinating) as well as meetings on restraint in mental health settings with the Royal College of Nursing and Mind. I also had a great catch up on the Reading Well: Books on Prescription scheme.


Letters to the Editors

Over the last few weeks, I've had several letters accepted in a number of national newspapers on minimum pricing for alcohol, plain packaging for cigarettes and internet pornography. I've written another letter to The Independent praising the Archbishop of Canterbury's plans for an alternative to payday lending, which should be published in Saturday's paper. Payday loan shops- along with fast food shops and cheap booze outlets - are another part of our toxic high streets. We know that debt and vulnerability can often walk hand in hand, and we need all financial service companies to prioritise the needs of vulnerable people.

No doubt some people will see me as a reincarnation of Mary Whitehouse for writing these letters. But I believe it is part of our role as doctors to speak out when we know the special vulnerabilities of some of our patients. And in my area of work as a child psychiatrist, I am particular concerned about the impact that ready access to violent, sadistic and pornographic images on the internet is having on young people's minds - to say nothing of the child victims whose images appear and whose lives are so blighted.


Other news

In other news, I've been following through on our employment and mental health seminar to deliver some useful outcomes. Together with the Centre for Mental Health, we have started our economic modelling of the value (in terms of both improved patient care and value for money) in shifting more resources into mental health.  So let's wait and see how strong a case we can really build, and then how we can get politicians, and those now controlling health, to listen and act. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

I also see that NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have published NHS Hospital Data and Datasets: A Consultation to explore how better extraction of information from hospitals’ data systems could help raise standards, improve safety, and reduce inequalities in patient care. I very much encourage you to take a look at this.

Finally, I am looking forward to the medical student Psychiatry Summer School in Liverpool next week. And, outside work, I'll be enjoying some celebrations as my family prepares to celebrate birthdays from across four generations.



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Re: A great week for mental he
Dear Prof Bailey, I hope you remember me! I have spoken to you a couple of years ago at a BIPA conference about my charity Mental Health Action Trust, a community psychiatry inititiative offering free treatment and rehabilitation to the poorest of the mentally ill in 3 rural districts of kerala, Southern India. I would like to publish the documentary 'Rebuilding lives' Part 1 and 2 about our work on the RCPsych website.
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