In the headlines

The College has been hitting the headlines recently, with our President playing a leading role in national conversations around racism in society and the mental health impact of the pandemic.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists was mentioned on the BBC News at Six and Ten as a part of a special report by Hugh Pym, Health Editor.

We described to the BBC how social isolation, loneliness, stress, anxiety and bereavement are all factors that have led to an increase in workload for mental health services in the last year.

Mental health and the pandemic

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, was recently interviewed by The Observer about the mental health impact of the pandemic.

Dr James said:

"If you look at the last pandemic – at the beginning of the last century – we know that the mental health effects really spun out over a couple of years beyond it.
“In similar disasters, we know that the mental health effects tend to go on once the physical effects are under control. So it’s of great concern.
“Our services were already in a very challenging position. We know that we weren’t able to provide for everyone that needed mental health care before the pandemic."

He also had comment pieces published by The BMJ and Mental Health Today.

Racial disparities

The Times published a letter from Dr Adrian James responding to the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

Dr James described the report as "disappointing" because it "failed to take notice of the compelling evidence that racial disparities in health and particularly in mental health are driven in large part by social factors that are structurally determined."

He added:

"The authors have chosen to invalidate a substantial body of research in this field as well as the lived experience of thousands of people from ethnic minority backgrounds."

Addictions cuts

The College's Addiction Faculty recently highlighted deep cuts to youth services. Our analysis revealed that funding has been cut by £26m.

Dr Emily Finch, vice-chair, said the cuts were "completely unsustainable and unbelievably short-sighted. We need to wake up to the fact that money spent on addiction services saves the NHS a whole lot more in the long run, whether that's in A&E or in other mental health services". The story received widespread coverage on the BBC Radio 1/2/4/5Live bulletins, as well as by BBC News Online, The BMJ, MailOnline and The Evening Standard.

Dr Finch has also recently warned of an increase in alcohol dependency as a result of the pandemic:

"A lot of people are drinking more during lockdown. Some will be able to stop but others might go on to develop a serious problem. Services can help but they are underfunded to cope with the increase in demand.”

Her comments were broadcast by BBC News, BBC Breakfast and the full range of BBC radio stations.

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