Supporting our members at home and abroad
27 May, 2021
The heartbreaking scenes in the Indian subcontinent have touched so many of us. I am shocked and saddened to see the devastation that COVID-19 has caused there and in many other parts of the world.
Lots of you will be suffering right now, either on the frontline or here in the UK away from family and friends. My deepest sympathies are with all those who have sadly lost loved ones to this terrible virus.
I encourage you all to reach out if you need help or advice.
We’re working with the British Indian Psychiatric Association (BIPA) to support their Caring for Carers initiative provided for medics on the ground who might be experiencing acute stress and anxiety.
Today, the College are holding a free members webinar that will be available on our website called PFA in the time of COVID: what can psychiatrists do?, with Dr Richard Williams, Presidential Lead COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Mental Health, BIPA and the volunteering and international psychiatry special interest group (VIPSIG). As a College we will continue to work with colleagues to understand how best we can offer support.
While many here in the UK are discovering newfound freedoms, we must remember those that continue to work relentlessly to fight the COVID-19 pandemic abroad.
Sustainability at the heart of all we do
In the UK, Mental Health Awareness Week was from the 10-16 May - and presented an opportunity for everyone to focus on achieving good mental health.
As doctors, we will sometimes need help too and I would like to encourage you all to reach out if you are experiencing difficulties. The College’s Psychiatrists Support Service (PSS) provides a free, confidential, peer support telephone service open to psychiatrists of all grades.
The focus for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week was nature. This plays such an integral role in our wellbeing and is something I personally care enormously about. Sustainability is one of my four key priorities as the College’s President and, as I highlighted in the members update earlier this month, I am pleased that we have now launched our position statement: Our planet’s climate and ecological emergency.
This important document outlines recommendations for action by government, educational bodies and health services; details the impacts of environmental degradation and climate-related hazards on mental health; has an overview of psychological dimensions of the crisis and outlines ways in which mental health services can form part of the solution.
But, most importantly it highlights how the College will play an important leadership role in responding to the threat the planetary crisis poses to mental health.
We must take urgent action now to avert a health and mental health catastrophe.
Our calls were featured on Sky News’ The Daily Climate Show and we have also released a three-part miniseries podcast on the relationship between our mental health and the health of our planet. Do have a listen.
We want to hear from you
At our free members webinar earlier this month, I talked about the College’s first ever membership survey alongside our Registrar Dr Trudi Seneviratne and our Associate Registrar Dr Santosh Mudholkar.
We’re very keen to hear more about what you want from the College’s activities and services, and I urge you all to take the time to fill this out. The survey will be open to all members until 13 June and the results will be presented at the meetings of the RCPsych Council and Board of Trustees in July and shared with members via the September edition of RCPsych Insight.
Looking forward to International Congress
I hope, like me, you are looking forward to the College’s first virtual International Congress taking place on 21-24 June.
This fast-approaching event has an incredible line up of keynote speakers: author and poet Michael Rosen; Professor Prabha Chandra from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore; Dr Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief of The BMJ; Professor Huda Zoghbi, Professor of Pediatrics, Molecular and Human Genetics, Neurology and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty. There will also be an abundance of interesting fringe events and seminars.
I look forward to seeing lots of you there.