Prioritising care for mental illnesses, in an era of mental wellbeing awareness

Date: Tuesday 18 June
Time: 12.25pm - 1.40pm
Stream: Policy and media


Mental health awareness and promotion of mental wellbeing has never been more widespread. On the one hand this may be a positive thing: more people are talking about mental health, and encouraged to seek help. On the other hand, we may be seeing in society an expansion in self-help, and brief psychological intervention, at the expense of focus on the needs of people with severe mental illnesses and long-term conditions. Although concerns about over-prescribing have some validity and social and preventative measures are vital, de-medicalisation can lead to the normalisation and acceptance of poor clinical outcomes, when the reason for this may be lack of access to effective, evidence-based care, support, and treatment.

The needs of people with life-threatening or severely disabling mental disorders, and their carers, must be acknowledged and provided for. Are we equipped as psychiatrists to lead on this at all levels? Medical care means the biopsychosocial model: diagnosis and formulation, followed by appropriate treatment planning, which may include pharmacological and psychological interventions and should always include social interventions. How can we effectively promote understanding in society and in our local health care systems that treatments for severe mental disorders are effective, that patients can recover and improve, and that clinical quality standards backed up with adequate service provision and expertise leads to meaningful improvement in outcomes and quality of life? Above all, how do we maintain our sense of purpose, and professional identity, and advocate for patients to have access to high quality, positive care support and treatment, in the face of unprecedented need and demand for mental health services? If not psychiatrists, then who will do this?

This session focuses on long-term mental disorders, exploring how psychiatrists can improve access to care, address discrimination in service provision, and improve public awareness.

Delegates will learn about:

  • Approaches to securing the necessary resources for meaningful therapeutic care
  • Experience of living with a severe, long-term mental illness when service provision focuses on low-intensity, short-term interventions
  • What’s needed from a patient perspective to improve experiences of care
  • The value of rehabilitative, social and long-term approaches to psychiatric care
  • Addressing inequalities in access to care
  • The importance of nurturing and supporting psychiatrists
  • Raising the profile of psychiatry


Chair: Alex Thomson, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Dr Lade Smith, President of Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, UK 

Dr Emma McAllister, Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, UK

Dr Raj MohanSouth London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Please email or call 020 8618 4120 with any enquiries.