Thursday 26 June 2014
Across the world communities face austerity, organisational change
and social upheaval. All the more reason for the family of
psychiatry to hold in mind why we are privileged to work in this
complex and fascinating field of medicine that uniquely bridges the
gap between social science, mental health and neuroscience. Our
speciality is a unique blend of science and humanity. Every day we
work closely with individual’s families and communities providing
leadership in mental health at every point of the 'web and weave'
of a patient's pathway of care.
Building on the work of my predecessors who
introduced and promoted No Health without Mental
health and No Public Health without Mental Health I
have been fortunate enough to be able to seize the
opportunity to lobby for Parity of Esteem between mental and
physical health. (Parity
The challenge remains to deliver parity in
practice and parity of outcomes. Progress is being made to
close the belief gap that mental health really matters. The
building blocks are in place to close the mortality, treatment and
funding gaps, to mitigate against and reduce the negative impact of
stigma and discrimination, but this progress will rapidly be
reversed unless policy makers and those who hold the purse strings
turn "fine" words into resources. Resources that would enable us to
strengthen mental health service delivery at the interfaces of
primary care, acute emergency care and across into secondary care
for the benefit of the whole of medicine (Bridging
the gap report).
Doctors come into medicine to make people’s
lives better. Underpinning all we do is the art of communication,
listening to patient’s stories in order to deliver patient centred
care. Failure to do so risks dire consequences as highlighted in
the Francis Report when the voices of patients and carers went
unheard. Practitioner voices have also gone unheard. Hence the
College focus on a comprehensive response to the Francis report
report response), for which we need the ongoing active
involvement of all psychiatrists whatever stage in their career and
whatever their role in service delivery.
In difficult times psychiatry has to stand as
one, to support all parts of society, across the lifespan, across
the spectrum of health. Whether health promotion, prevention, acute
care, supporting recovery and building psychosocial resilience in
those with and at risk of developing mental illness.
Our voice needs to be better heard and acted
upon. Within the family of medicine we have always been at the
vanguard of how to deliver care in the community, we understand
shared clinical decision making and we have a good evidence base.
We are adept at taking advantage of new technology, be it social
media or telehealth. To deliver, however, we need a rebalancing of
resources no matter how limited the total health care pot of any
country. Without this we are heading to, and in some places we are
You have to be the brightest and the best to
do psychiatry. We should be proud of this, spread the word amongst
aspiring and current medical students. Who better to do this than
our own trainees.
The role of President has been a unique
experience, one where everyone Council, Honorary Officers, Members,
fellow mental health professionals, users, carers, and above all
the staff, who give life to the work of the College, have been
This has left me with enough energy reserves
and learning to move on to new interconnected roles.
As Chair of the Children and Young People’s
Mental Health Coalition I will continue to lobby for the voice of
young people with mental health problems (CYPMHC).
A lifelong pursuit, (which arose from the
experience of being raised in a milltown in an era of social
decline), has been how to reduce inequalities across society. As
Chair of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges Inequalities Forum I
hope to support the Academy in how we can contribute to reducing
Where I will definitely need all your
continuing support is in my new role as Senior Clinical Lead at HEE
(HEE) to support
Mental Health Delivery, Workforce, Education and Training. So how
can we help all health professionals become more psychologically
minded? How as psychiatrists can we improve the physical health
care of our patients? How in the future can the psychiatric
workforce attain and retain the skills and knowledge we need to
deliver best care? By psychiatrists leading and supporting
The serendipity of life has taken me on
interesting pathways. I have learnt that life is predictably
unpredictable, to adapt to new situations and know how, when,
where, and which battles to fight.
Looking at the world today as the lens of the
media daily penetrates our living rooms with the reality of
poverty, rising mental health problems, social upheaval, natural
and man made disasters, I can't help but reflect that Mental Health
has a part to play in sustainability in particular disease
prevention and patient empowerment and self care.
The pursuit of sustainability over the pursuit
of GDP might leave us all in a better place. Policy makers may even
want to consider that "Nations that invest in women's employment,
health (including mental health) and education are just more likely
to have better outcomes. Their children will be healthier and
better educated" (Hillary Clinton)
Gradually the Cartesian view of the separate
components of body and mind is being replaced with that of the
‘whole person’ whose mental health and physical health are
co-dependent. Are the College leadership and our members ready to,
prepared to be bold and brave enough to move the ‘whole person’
discussion from rhetoric to reality?
As I know you will, please continue to give
the wonderful support you have shown to me in the role of President
to Simon as he takes on this role.
That's all folks!
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