A special time of year
28 April, 2022
For people around the world, this is a very special time of year. I would like to begin by wishing those who celebrate it a very Happy Easter, Happy Pesach and Ramadan Mubarak.
A 10-year mental health plan
The pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for a proper, cross-sector, long-term plan for mental health.
This month the College welcomed the launch of a public consultation on the development of a new 10-year plan to reduce and prevent mental illness and provide the care and services our patients deserve. We look forward to continuing our work with government to ensure this plan meets the needs of our patients.
As President I’ve made championing equality, diversity and inclusion in the mental health sector one of my top priorities, and this is a real opportunity to set out how we can all work together to tackle the root causes of mental illnesses including inequality, barriers to treatment, discrimination, racism and poor physical health.
The College’s recently launched Public Mental Health Implementation Centre is also looking to improve awareness and adoption of evidence-based programmes to prevent mental illness and improve resilience and wellbeing following the pandemic.
However, I know that many of you will be looking at your own services and wondering how to address the very real problems you are facing now. While the government’s ambition on prevention is welcome, they must also address the crisis in mental health services. Demand for services has exploded since the start of the pandemic, and people with mental illnesses are being failed by unacceptably long waiting times. Services must have the resources and staffing to meet future demand.
I look forward to engaging with the government and working with colleagues across the College to set out our response over the coming months.
Supporting the mental health of asylum seekers and refugees
Events in Ukraine, Afghanistan and around the world have meant there are many people every day facing the trauma of violence, danger, exploitation and loss of their loved ones. Unsurprisingly, this will mean more individuals developing problems like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I’ve felt that as health professionals, it is our responsibility to step in and help in any way we can in times of humanitarian need. I was so pleased to announce that this month we launched information aimed at health and social care professionals in the UK supporting asylum seekers and refugees with their mental health.
This resource looks at the basic principles of supporting the mental health of displaced people. It looks at experiences of mental disorders in asylum seekers and refugees, approaches to assessment, and when to triage to specialist support. It has also been endorsed by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges – a testament to the hard work of Professor Linda Gask, Professor Neil Greenberg, Professor Cornelius Katona and Professor Richard Williams in getting it off the ground.
RCPsych in Parliament
The College has continued to have good relationships with parliamentarians in Westminster and plays a really important role in briefing MPs and Peers on mental health and psychiatry.
Most recently, RCPsych, alongside over 100 other organisations, supported an amendment to the Health and Care Bill that would make it a legal duty for the Government to publish assessments of how many health and social care staff are needed to keep pace with projected demand. We believe that this would help hold the Government to account for training enough doctors and nurses to provide vital care for people across the country.
Members have been instrumental in putting pressure on MPs to accept the amendment through emailing their MP – thank you. Across all the organisations campaigning for the amendment, over 17,000 emails have been sent to MPs.
Unfortunately, the amendment has been rejected by the government. However, the campaign has been great at increasing the profile of workforce as an issue amongst parliamentarians and has led in part to the government commissioning HEE to refresh their 15-year strategic framework for working planning and commissioning NHSE to develop a workforce strategy. We continue to work hard to influence mental health workforce policy agendas and hold stakeholders to account on delivery.
It's also great that we’ve now relaunched our Parliamentary Scholar Programme which gives the chance for ST4-6 trainees to spend one day a week at the House of Lords working with peers with an interest in mental health and intellectual disability to develop leadership and other skills necessary to influence policy on mental health matters.
We’re delighted to be able to offer this opportunity again for 2022/23 to support up to five parliamentary scholars drawn from the range of psychiatric subspecialties to use their special interest sessions to develop experience in these areas. The closing date is 13 May 2022 – find out how to apply.
April meeting of Council
The College held its regular meeting of Council this month. This is the first meeting since the College reached the impressive landmark of our membership surpassing 20,000 for the first time in our history. A fantastic achievement.
I was delighted to welcome a series of speakers, and we had stimulating and productive sessions on recruitment and personality disorder. We also heard from Research by Design, who presented to us on the results of the LGBTQ+ survey.
Earlier this month we highlighted that the survey showed almost one in two LGBTQ+ psychiatrists have experienced hostility at work because of their sexuality or gender identity. The College is running focus groups to understand more about the experiences of psychiatrists highlighted in the survey and plans to publish a report including guidance to support employers to stamp out discrimination.
College Members can read the minutes of Council on our website when they are published – please do have a look.
This blog post was included in our April 2022 eNewsletter.