VIPSIG Essay Prize

This prize was established to promote interest and encourage excellence in volunteering (UK or abroad) and international psychiatry. Entrants are invited to submit an original essay of their choice. Submissions may include (but are not limited to): a description of a clinical or charitable experience or project; elective report; reflective essay; editorial; research; audit; or literature review.

Eligibility: Medical students, foundation trainees, psychiatry trainees, SAS and specialty doctors.

Prize: Trophy and certificate

Frequency: Annual

Where presented: VIPSIG conference or training event

Closing date: 1st Monday of December, annually

Submissions: Entrants will be asked to submit an electronic copy of their essay to Mandip Jheeta, VIPSIG Finance Officer, at:


Essay of no more than 3,000 words, which must be the entrant’s own work.

The spirit of the prize is to promote interest and encourage excellence in volunteering in psychiatry (UK or abroad) and/ or international psychiatry.

Essays will be judged on their overall quality and value, and relevance for professional development. Preference is likely to be given to essays involving some volunteer work.

The prize will be judged by a panel of 3 judges appointed by VIPSIG, and awarded to the best entry or shared between joint best entries.

Consideration will be given to an entrant’s seniority and expected level of experience.

A project involving collaboration with psychiatrists or any other discipline may be submitted, but the prize will be awarded to a single entrant. Where collaborative work is submitted, there should be a clear indication of the contribution by entrant and collaborator(s).

Please include on your submission: name; grade/ seniority; email address; and declaration of the role of any funding and potential conflicts of interest.

Entrants who are uncertain whether their essay is suitable for submission, or would like further information, may contact VIPSIG directly:

Past winners




  • Claude Shema. Outreach Psychiatry Volunteering Experience with Aboriginal Communities in Canada. (MSc)
  • Andrea Meredith. Mental health services in Cambodia. (ST5)

We're announcing this year's winners on May 25 on the wishes of Dr Zafrina Majid, whose essay received a commendation. This is in memory of her sibling Dr Syad Arshad Abbas, who passed away on this date in 2011. We've included a few words from her below.


Shaheen Sardar. Familial Relationships: A Protective or Detrimental Factor against Psychiatric Conditions in Female Refugees? (Medical Student)

Sarah Parry. Mental Health Services in Cambodia: research and reflection.


Gunjan Sharma. East vs West: Psychiatry in the Himalayas. (CT1)

Natalie Cook. SKIP: Emotional Wellbeing Interventions. (ST4)


Fiona Martin. Volunteering in a mental health service in Uganda: challenges and rewards. (ST4)

Zafrina Majid. What Appears to be the End, May Really Be a New Beginning. (ST4)

"May 25, 2011 will remain forever etched on my mind. On that fateful day, Dr. Syed Arshad Abbas, my sibling, left us suddenly without saying a goodbye. He was accompanying a critically ill patient in an air ambulance which crashed in New Delhi; there were no survivors in that air crash.

At 34, he had a mission for promoting voluntary health related work, benefitting some of the poorest of the poor. In keeping with his mission, I have travelled to my parental home in Kashmir, every year since 2011, to carry out voluntary work for a charitable trust established in his memory. I am grateful to the RCPsych team for considering to publish my article, based on this work, on May 25, 2020, which coincides with his death anniversary. Getting published on this date will give me an immense sense of comfort and fulfilment and recognition that it is worthwhile sharing such work internationally and continuing his mission in future.

A special thanks to Mark Tuner, Mandip Jheeta and Kit Richardson for making this happen."

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry