RCPsych eNewsletter May 2018

Wendy talks about her whirlwind world tour in the name of psychiatry, and meeting Larry the Downing St cat.

Read the full blog.

How do you improve the skills of mental health workers in war-torn Syria? And what is their role in helping young Syrians build a better future?

They were two of the topics psychiatrists and other mental health professionals were discussing in Istanbul earlier this month at a conference arranged by the Syrian Association for Mental Health (SAMH) in co-operation with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).

Below, RCPsych Fellow Dr Nadim Almoshmosh reports on this important event, and highlights the vital role of psychiatry and mental health care in a country engulfed in catastrophe.

Dr Almoshmosh’s report from the conference

The conference on 5-6th May, arranged in cooperation with Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), had the theme “Moving from crisis response to sustainable services”. 

More than 150 professionals from various disciplines, mainly based in Turkey and work closely with Syrian refugees.

The overall objectives of the conference were: 

  1. Review and updates on the status of mental health needs of refugees.
  2. Highlight the need and challenges of developing sustainable psychological services for Syrians. 
  3. Enhance skills and knowledge of workers in the mental health field. 
  4. Address the role of mental health workers in dealing with challenges faced by the young Syrian generation.
  5. Provide a framework in addressing the ethical and legal aspects when providing mental health care for Syrian refugees.

Over 40 lecturers and trainers took part in delivering briefs, seminars and workshops. Prominent speakers gave inspiring talks to cover the objectives including Prof M Abou Saleh and Prof V Sharma workshop exploring the use of Global Mental Health Assessment Tool training in addressing the needs.

Prof T Wenzel talked about the medical and psychiatric documentations of sequels to violence in the Syrian conflict. Prof U Korkmazlar highlighted the use of EMDR for affected Syrian refugees in Turkey.

This was followed up by an expert brief delivered by Sian Morgan, founder of Trauma Aid-UK, on EMDR training to support mental health professionals in healing the impact of trauma in areas of conflict.

Mrs Morgan has been instrumental along with Royal College members Dr K Sultan and W Abdulhamid in delivering training of EMDR for Syrian and other Arab professionals in the last few years.

So far 90 have completed their EMDR training and are in the process of getting their accreditation as therapists.  This will help in the capacity building so more therapists will be available to help alleviate some of suffering of Syrian trauma survivors.

The conference also highlighted the maladaptive behaviours some people do at times of conflict including substance misuses and increase tobacco smoking. Prof K Ogel gave a brief introduction in addiction problems followed up by possible ways to prevent it and manage it.

A workshop on the ethical and legal aspects faced by mental health workers with Syrian refugees and the possible overlap between them were explored. Dr M Aljundi and colleagues have worked tirelessly on trying to address this often difficult subject and has produced a Code of Ethics for mental health practitioners working with Syrians.

Various other talks explored sustainable psychiatric healthcare for Syrians and ways to implement them in collaboration with local services. Issues related to refugee mental health and acculturation problems in Turkey and other mental and behaviour problems of Syrian refugees in Germany were also discussed.

Solution focus brief therapy, trauma focused therapy, CBT approach and EMDR presented as various approaches to help cover the needs.

The use of Tele-mental health and reviewing various group attempts on this including distant supervision were explored.

This can be an invaluable method of help and the recommendation for its use is to be done when clear guidance is identified linking with local professionals and resources with the understanding of its possible limitations.

The Syrian situation is catastrophic and one Syrian neuropsychologist Prof K Hamza has coined a “Human Devastation Syndrome” to describe the 'unique, unprecedented trauma' of Syrian crisis on children. PTSD feels insufficient to describe their state as their devastation is above and beyond what even soldiers are able to see in war.

The Syrian crisis, suffering and uprooting continue with huge psychological consequences on civilians. Syrian mental health professionals and other sympathisers will continue to offer their support and attempt to alleviate some of this suffering.

Dr Nadim Almoshmosh, FRCPsych

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The BJPsych and the Mental Health Foundation have teamed up to create a great podcast on the topic ‘Women, psychiatry and science’.

Listen to an incredible panel discuss the challenges women have faced and are facing, including our College Dean Kate Lovett, the head of the College’s Academic Faculty Anne Lingford-Hughes, and the president of the Medical Women's Federation, Henrietta Bowden-Jones.



World experts from the UK and USA told a packed conference how neuroscience will change the future of psychiatry.

Leading psychiatrists and neuroscience researchers gathered at Cambridge University’s Downing College for the second annual RCPsych Neuroscience Spring Conference – the only event in the calendar devoted to the contemporary role of neuroscience in psychiatry.

Psychiatric trainees, medical students and representatives of patient groups also participated, all brought together to share in the latest ideas from clinically relevant, cutting edge research on the human brain and behaviour.

With the aim of fostering collaboration that might speed the translation of discoveries in research to the benefit of patients, much time was given over to creating opportunities for networking and the development of new contacts.

See highlights from the day on the pages of the Gatsby/Wellcome Neuroscience Project on the RCPsych website and visit the RCPsych’s YouTube channel to watch the presentations again in their entirety.

Why do girls with autism often go undiagnosed? Just one of the compelling articles in the summer 2018 edition of RCPsych Insight.

RCPsych Insight Issue 4

Imagine growing up feeling you’re different from your peers yet desperate to fit in.

You believe you’re mentally ill, but never have an explanation for your thoughts and behaviour.

Shockingly, this is an experience girls with undiagnosed autism are highly likely to endure.

Currently, about 700,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with autism but just 20% of them are female, a figure disputed by autism experts.

“The number of women with autism is likely to be heavily underestimated because females are diagnosed less often than men,” explains Consultant Psychiatrist and autism specialist Dr Juli Crocombe, who believes the ratio is more likely 3:2 male to female.


What did you think of the latest edition of RCPsych Insight?

Email us your thoughts to data-sf-ec-immutable="">, or tweet us using the hashtag #RCPsychInsight.

Nearly 100 Foundation Doctors attended our ‘Medicine for the curious’ event – and liked what they heard.

The College laid on great speakers designed to emphasise the variety of career options for doctors considering psychiatry.

And workshops including ‘speed dating’ with psychiatrists from different specialties gave delegates a rapid-fire, fun introduction to the rich range of options.

There was a debate about the merits of taking a year out after FY2 – brilliantly argued by both sides – and a show-stopping lecture on the evolution of the human brain: 80 million years summed up in 45 action-packed, and sometimes amusing minutes.

One message which came across strongly was – great as London is, there are some wonderful opportunities to train in, and practise psychiatry, across the UK.

We provided updates on the event on twitter, and delegates responded very positively.

The event was the latest in a programme of work to encourage medical students, Foundation doctors and others to choose psychiatry as a career.

Feedback on Twitter

Great first two days of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek spent at @RCPsych with other foundation doctors who are considering becoming the future psychiatry doctor workforce! Learnt a lot about the different options in the specialty and my curiosity has been widened! #ChoosePsychiatry

So enthused about the diverse and flexible career prospects in psychiatry, following the @RCPsych foundation event, I’ve succumbed and rejoined twitter. #choosepsychiatry #notreallyprocrastinating

Feeling truly inspired by the last couple of days. Thank you @RCPsych for hosting an incredible foundation event. Dr Jonathan Rogers, a current core trainee, summed it up nicely: ‘Psychiatry training is enormously diverse and stimulating’. @Choose_Psych #ChoosePsychiatry

Inspiring speech by @Derektracy1 to conclude the @RCPsych foundation trainee conference. #choosepsychiatry #lockupyourpuppies

The College is extensively revising all psychiatric training curricula, an exercise due to be completed by the end of 2020.

This will meet the new standards set by the GMC, and make sure the training programme is in line with the principles of the Shape of Training review.

The new requirements signal a departure from providing lists of granular competencies towards areas of capability, with emphasis on the knowledge, skills and attitudes that can be applied to a wide range of circumstances.

We will be attending Faculty and Committee meetings during 2018/19 to share updates on the project and to ask for feedback.

If you would like to be involved or have a question to ask about the project, please contact: curricula@rcpsych.ac.uk.

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