RCPsych Future Archives Competition

Do you want to make history?

We're creating an archive charting how mental healthcare is delivered and experienced today, and we want to hear from you. Send in your contribution and you could win a fantastic prize.

What was mental healthcare like back in 2020/1?

Founded in 1841, the RCPsych is celebrating its 180th anniversary in 2021. 

Our knowledge about mental healthcare all those years ago is limited - because it lacks the perspectives of everyone giving and receiving mental health care.

We can't change the resources we have about mental health in the past - but we can make sure that people in the future can access a wide range of perspectives about what mental health practices, politics, services and research were like in 2020 and 2021.

To provide a broad perspective for future generations we're inviting everyone to contribute their thoughts and impressions of psychiatry and mental health services today and help create our 'Future Archives'.

Whether you’re a psychiatrist, a medical student, GP, nurse, campaigner, psychologist, AMHP, occupational therapist, patient, carer, or just happen to be interested in mental health, we'd love to hear your thoughts.

We want to make our 'Future Archives' as inclusive and holistic as possible!

According to the International Council on Archives (ICA) “Archives are the documentary by-product of human activity retained for their long-term value. They are contemporary records created by individuals and organisations as they go about their business and therefore provide a direct window on past events. They can come in a wide range of formats including written, photographic, moving image, sound, digital and analogue. ….” 

Archives are witnesses to the past. They provide evidence, explanation, and justification both for past actions and current decisions. 

Archives assist society to undertake a wide range of roles that enable civilised communities to take root and flourish, from facilitating education and research, providing entertainment and leisure, to protecting human rights and confirming identity.

Archives are unique, contemporaneous records and so once lost cannot be replaced. It is only through proper identification, care and wide access that the vital role that archives have can be fully realised to the benefit of humanity.

The Future Archives competition will enable the College Archives to collect, store and provide online access to your stories.

The stories we receive will supplement and complement the institutional records that are created by the various departments, committees, faculties, divisions and devolved councils and special interest groups of the College.

In short, submissions for the competition will enrich our archival heritage, which is usually composed mainly of official records such as reports and minutes of meetings.

 Your story will become part of the materials relating to the pandemic that are being collected by the College Archives that include records being produced by College departments such as guidance and information for clinicians and trainees, support information for patients and carers, webinars and other audio-visual materials.

A good example of future archives could be a narration of personal experiences relating to the COVID-19 pandemic which has been in existence since early 2020 and has had a profound negative effect on the mental wellbeing of many people.

Your story may include:

  • changes to the work of treating patients in hospitals and in the community
  • changes to your work pattern due to the pandemic
  • arrangements being instituted at your workplace to cope with these changing working patterns,
  • problems caused by equipment shortages,
  • your perception of the government`s response to the pandemic
  • your experience as a patient or carer in managing the challenges that are being presented by the pandemic.

What format can I submit my entry in?

We welcome all relevant submissions: prose, poetry, drama, film, or even comic strips!

You can enter anything up to 1,000 words. Submissions without words – cartoons, paintings, music – are also welcome, but please include a brief commentary on your work.

When is the closing date?

The closing date is 30 April 2021.

Who is judging the competition?

All entries will be assessed by a diverse panel of judges, including a journalist, a clinician, a patient, and a historian.


All entries will be deposited in the College archives, with the author’s agreement, for future generation to read and learn about psychiatry in the present day.  Each author will receive a certificate confirming this.  If you wish, your entry can be 'closed' to public access for a period, e.g. 10 years, 25 years or longer, and then made available.

Three winners will receive an iPad.

And we will publish some entries in the History of Psychiatry Special Interest Group (HoPSIG) newsletter.

We'll also invite three participants to discuss their entries and thoughts about present day psychiatry at the RCPsych International Congress in June 2021

For further information contact:

Enter the competition

Please include:

  • your name
  • your entry itself
  • some brief information about you, to provide context for future researchers
  • whether you're happy for the entry to be open to the public immediately, or you'd like it to be closed for a set period (in which case, please say for how long).

Anonymous submissions are welcome, but cannot be considered for prizes. 

Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry