About us 

The aim of the volunteering and international SIG is primarily altruistic. VIPSIG will promote and support mental health accessibility to all regardless of location and means.

VIPSIG hopes to support training and education in the international arena and will aim to:

  • Promote volunteer work overseas as well as in the UK and expand the population of people interested in this work
  • Be a voice that will inform the College and serve as an agent in this work
  • Have a fundraising role in order to develop more volunteer possibilities
  • Produce a newsletter in order to celebrate volunteerism in the UK and globally
  • Establish e-groups in order to promote this field by regular discussion
  • Promote appropriate training materials for volunteers overseas
  • Explore web-based psychiatry training to assist training sites in mental health
  • Establish links with non-governmental organisations and Diaspora communities
  • Promote overseas electives for medical students and encouragement of psychiatry as a career
  • Promote the overseas experience in psychiatry as a desirable attribute for the NHS.

As well as having an international focus, VIPSIG will also be a forum for volunteer work in the UK. This is an area that needs some development and will fit into the Government’s objectives.

VIPSIG will function by e-groups, virtual and face-to-face meetings. We will aim to have our meetings throughout the UK.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is committed to supporting mental health care across the world, particularly in countries that are known to suffer from an acute shortage of psychiatrists.

The College’s volunteer scheme aims to facilitate contact between hospitals, clinics, projects and communities in need of psychiatric expertise and training, and psychiatrists who are willing to offer their time and support.

To register with the RCPsych volunteer scheme, you will need to complete and return the volunteers registration form.

VIPSIG is open to all members and associates of the College.

There are two ways members of the College can join VIPSIG:

You can also join us on Facebook.

Upcoming events

VIPSIG Annual Day Conference – Volunteering Preparedness

  • Date: Friday 14 October 2022
  • Location: Royal College of Psychiatrists, London
  • Please book your place as soon as possible we have only 50 in-person places available. If we reach capacity, we will explore the option for online attendance. 

This year’s VIPSIG annual conference will be in person whole day event at RCPsych premises. 

The theme of the conference is “Volunteering Preparedness” and we have confirmed inspirational speakers from a variety of backgrounds, focussing on volunteering both internationally and with underserved populations in the UK.. 

During this workshop we will hear from clinicians who have made real impact with volunteering efforts internationally, and learn and discuss together how best to prepare and care for ourselves as clinicians for volunteering,. We will also discuss and reflect on potential challenges of working transculturally and hold a discussion with clinicians in low-resource settings working with high-income country volunteers on how they manage these challenges.

 The day will include the following themes

  • Celebration of international psychiatry and volunteering (AM session)
  • The future international strategy and benefit to NHS of volunteering (panel discussion)
  • Volunteering preparedness and self-care (PM session)
  • Challenges and opportunities - issues of cultural difference, power imbalance and collaborating effectively, (panel discussion)

International Psychiatry and Volunteering training in the North East

  • Dates: 26 and 27 November 2022
  • Venue: St Nicholas Hospital in Gosforth

Gateshead Health and CNTW NHS trusts are co-hosting a training and orientation weekend on the WHO mental health Gap (MHGap) Intervention Guide and Psychological First Aid on the 26th and 27th November 2022.

This training is the prerequisite for many international volunteering opportunities, and is delivered by experienced psychiatrists from the Royal College of Psychiatrists International Psychiatry and Volunteering Special Interest Group.

MHGap training is intended to equip clinicians to supervise, teach and collaborate with non-specialist health-care providers in  integration of mental health into primary health care in Low and Middle Income Countries.

These skills are transferable for UK practitioners, particularly those working with marginalised and underserved communities. MHGap orientation is useful for doctors/trainees of all specialties but also for clinicians in other specialties including mental health nursing and social work.

Please send expressions of interest to coordinators:

Past events

VIPSIG supportive supervision workshop

  • Date: 20 October 2021
  • Location: Online event

Volunteering Skills: How to be an effective and professional international volunteer

WHO Humanitarian mhGAP and Psychological First Aid One day Orientation

  • Date: 13 September 2019
  • Location: Royal College of Psychiatrists, London
  • Please see conference agenda (PDF) for further information.

VIPSIG Annual Day Conference – eLearning Opportunities and Challenges

  • Date: Tuesday 18 September 2018
  • Location: Royal College of Psychiatrists, London

VIPSIG Executive Meeting – Business Meeting welcoming new Regional Representatives

  • Date: Friday 22 June 2018
  • Location: Royal College of Psychiatrists, London
Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry