31 March, 2022
College offers support and sympathy for Ukraine crisis
We have all been incredibly shocked and saddened by events in Ukraine. Many of us will only be able to imagine the devastation currently unfolding on the ground and the impact this is having on so many families. We have welcomed the World Psychiatric Association’s statement calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities.
The College has been working hard to ensure we give the most effective response we can to the crisis. We are working with national and international agencies to establish this and will be helping them to deliver psychological first aid (PFA) training. We also have several resources available on our website which will be useful in this and other humanitarian emergencies.
We are so grateful to the many members who have offered to help. We are inviting those who can donate money to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
Dr Steve Pearce
I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of the Chair of the Medical Psychotherapy Faculty, Dr Steve Pearce, after a long illness. Steve was a truly inspiring leader and has done so much for the Faculty and the College.
I was honored to speak at the joint conference between the Medical Psychotherapy and General Adult Psychiatry facilities last week. This was a testament to Steve’s belief about the value of integrating psychological thinking within psychiatry. He will be greatly missed, and my thoughts are with his family, friends and the many colleagues who worked with Steve.
COVID-19 and mental health recovery
Many of you will now know someone who is currently, or has recently been, infected with Omicron. I was one of those people this month. I had cold-like symptoms and was lucky to have not had an exacerbated version of the illness. With vaccines and effective treatments, we have come a long way since March 2020.
As I have said many times before, we know that the mental health pandemic is just beginning. The College continues to work hard to highlight that mental health should not be forgotten within the wider NHS recovery plan and I was pleased that we have had such effective news coverage this month. In my article in the BMJ I highlight how, as it stands, it seems that the scale of the government’s ambition on mental health is failing to keep up with the scale of the post-pandemic challenge.
The College gained a lot of traction with its most recent analysis which showed that a record 4.3m referrals to specialist mental health services were made during 2021.When the Omicron variant of COVID-19 arrived in December, a record one million people were receiving specialist treatment for conditions including addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
I know that you and your teams are working flat out to give patients the support they need, but the lack of resources makes this a real challenge. We are continuing to call for a fully-funded plan to help mental health services recover from the pandemic, backed by a long-term workforce plan.
Launching our new Public Mental Health Implementation Centre
I was thoroughly disappointed that I was unable to attend the launch of the College’s new Public Mental Health Implementation Centre (PMHIC) last week due to my COVID-19 infection. The Centre has been a long-time in the making and it is a real testament to all those involved that we were able to successfully launch it in Parliament this week, alongside politicians such as Minister of State for Care and Mental Health Gillian Keegan MP.
We know that mental disorders account for at least 18% of the global and 21% of the UK disease burden. However, only a minority of people with a mental disorder in the UK receive treatment, and far fewer receive interventions to prevent associated impacts.
Furthermore, a nationwide survey commissioned by the College revealed the devastating impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health, with one in three (29%) adults reporting their mental health deteriorated over the past two years.
The new PMHIC will support improved implementation of evidence-based interventions to treat mental disorders, prevent associated impacts, prevent mental disorders, and promote mental wellbeing and resilience.
In December, the College launched its first ever LGBTQ+ membership survey. The survey aimed to capture the experiences of LGBTQ+ psychiatrists in the workplace so that we can build a comprehensive picture of what is going on. The survey is one of 29 key actions to be implemented by 2023 as part of the College’s Equality Action Plan published in January 2021.
We discuss the results of the survey in the latest edition of Insight magazine which you can view on the College website. These highlight the extent to which LGBTQ+ psychiatrists have experienced hostility at work because of their sexuality or gender identity. The survey found a shocking statistic - that almost half (48%) said they had experienced bullying, harassment or microaggressions at work in the past three years. There is clearly more we can do to improve the experience of the psychiatric workforce.
We’re calling on all health care organisations to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and micro-aggressions against LGBTQ+ employees. This means backing up warm words with strong actions, investigating all complaints and publishing data on the number of complaints they receive.
Launch of LPS consultation
I also wanted to draw your attention to a consultation the government launched this month on the Changes to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) Code of Practice and implementation of the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS). The MCA applies in England and Wales, but some aspects of its application are devolved in Wales. This consultation also covers workforce guidance related to the implementation of the LPS. The consultation closes on 7 July 2022, and while the College will be responding, individuals can also do the same.
I want to end this month’s post by thanking you all for your continued hard work and dedication to improving the lives of our patients during this continued extraordinary period, across the four nations of the UK and beyond.
This blog post was included in the March 2022 eNewsletter.