The College's work to promote sustainability

Meet the College's Sustainability leads, Lisa Page and Jacob Krzanowski.

Hello. As Associate Registrars for Sustainability for the College, we would like to welcome you to these web pages.

It is great that the College is committed to sustainability. You can find here a range of guidance, reports, academic papers and other resources all about sustainable mental health that have been developed by the College.

Our health care system aims to provide the highest quality of care for the minimum financial cost, but a sustainable approach seeks to broaden this aim to also reduce the environmental impacts of health care, and reduce the social impacts of mental illness.

This means we need to focus on reducing waste in health care and promote models of care that are community-based and less resource-intensive. If you are a member of the College and would like to consider getting involved please contact rosalind.steele@rcpsych.ac.uk.

College position statement

Read a summary of the College's position statement, Our planet's climate and ecological emergency, and download the statement.

Sustainability and wellbeing

The RCPsych Sustainability and Planetary Health Committee takes a broad view on what sustainability means; it's not just carbon counting, climate and environmental issues. We see issues of social justice and sustainability of the workforce as firmly within the remit of sustainability.

The core principles of practising sustainable psychiatry are:

  • prioritising prevention
  • empowerment of patients, communities and staff
  • high value care
  • consider carbon.

The most sustainable workforce is one that feels supported and fulfilled by their work and working   conditions. A psychiatrist who is well supported and not "burnt-out" is better placed to help their patients stay well for longer and support them during acute illness. Optimising patients' mental health is by far the most sustainable thing we can do in all senses: personal, environmental, carbon use, financial, and so on.

There is one particular entity that sustainable psychiatrists must embrace: nature. This may involve incorporating green spaces into workplaces; facilitating patients to develop their own relationship with nature; or engaging with the natural world within our communities. Not only is there is a strong link between the impact of climate change on mental health, the evidence base regarding the benefits of nature for mental wellbeing continues to grow.

Supporting our members to continue their work in psychiatry avoids frequent staff turnover, the need for further recruitment and countless years of training. A resilient workforce is better placed to cope with the challenges that working in the NHS may bring - whether that be adapting practice to work within a global pandemic or adapting practice to work towards a net zero NHS. 

There is no doubt that staff wellbeing is a key priority for the sustainability of the NHS, the people it serves, and wider society.

 

Choosing wisely

An important aspect of sustainability is reducing wasted clinical resource in clinical care.

Choosing Wisely is an international campaign that seeks to embed a culture in which patients and clinicians regularly discuss the clinical value and effectiveness of treatments or interventions with the explicit aim of reducing the amount of inappropriate clinical activity.

The Sustainability and Planetary Health Committee will be leading this campaign by developing lists of interventions whose value we should question. This will be done through collaboration with the Academic Faculty.

Network

The Sustainability and Planetary Health Committee works closely with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, that runs Psych SusNet - a network for professionals working mental health who are interested in sustainability.

Please join the network if you would like to stay abreast of what is happening for sustainability in mental health.

Health Professionals Alliance on climate change

The College is a member of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change.

This alliance brings together the voices of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals within the UK to advocate for action to combat and prevent climate change, emphasising the substantial co benefits to health of tackling climate change in a fair and equitable way.

This alliance aims to communicate the relationship between health and climate change to government and the health profession.

Greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of human activity such as deforestation are having profound effects on the earth. It is increasingly clear that climate change poses a major threat to human health worldwide.

Doctors are well placed to advocate for climate change mitigation and adaption.

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