Managing Adversity - RCPsychiS Winter Meeting 2022
21 January, 2022
Adversity is something most of us do what we can to avoid. So, what was I thinking when I proposed 'adversity' as a theme for my first Winter meeting as Meetings Secretary?
Simply, because so much of our lives within and outwith the services in which we operate has been governed by adversity, brought on and exacerbated by a still ongoing pandemic. We have always managed challenges and difficult times, but the pandemic has spurred us to think more about this and the impact that these difficult times have on us.
Knowledge is power, and knowing more about adversity and how we respond gives us the ability to help our patients, our colleagues, and ourselves. One of the many problems we have all experienced is a lack of time and space to really think, and when we do get some time, we can be overwhelmed with any of a million other things that somehow must be done.
We need a space to think with people who have a different perspective, or something new to share. That is what we hope to provide you through this upcoming winter RCPsychiS meeting. Still online and enabling participation from your desk with a great line-up of speakers, the thread of dealing with adversity will run through the day.
We start with a focus on quality improvement and guidance – often developed not in times of calm but as the result of adverse event reviews and difficult situations. Our first talk is on the launch of the new SIGN Eating Disorders guideline, developed during the pandemic for the benefit of all those caring for people with these conditions. We then move perinatal and infant mental health, specialities that have had to go through trials to be recognised at all, and are now more firmly established.
We will then move on to the impact of the pandemic on ourselves and our colleagues, with thoughts around moral injury. If this is a new term to you, then you may recognise the experience from the definition: the cognitive and emotional response that can occur following events that violate a person's moral or ethical code. We have all likely been there at some point in the past 21 months.
The power of putting a name to an experience is one we know well and can often be the first step in making sense of what has taken place. In this session, we will also be returning to burnout and resilience in doctors with trainee representatives. This has been a live issue for most of us as we work under different and increasing pressures.
The adversity minority groups in our society is reflected in their experiences in mental health services, as illustrated by the Mental Welfare Commission’s recent report, Racial Inequality and Mental Health in Scotland. The challenge it sets down to us is to push harder for organisational and personal responsibility for change in a wide variety of forums – including within the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland. We are delighted to welcome the Dean of the College, Professor Subodh Dave, to discuss his thoughts on how we best do that.
Also being discussed in the afternoon is suicide and the effect that it has on us, both as professionals and human beings. Often a taboo subject even for psychiatrists, the loss of our own patients is a tragedy that affects us so deeply with so many different emotions and worries springing from this, it’s often difficult to know how to start processing it. Dr Rachel Gibbons will present her work in this area.
We finish the day with hearing about practitioner health and how we can keep ourselves and our colleagues well. This includes through the new developing Workforce Specialist Service, over a decade in the making and successfully lobbied for as part of ‘building back better’ post-pandemic.
It is vitally important in the year ahead that we move back toward a ‘new normal’ that prioritises a regular conversation and dialogue with colleagues to continue our learning. I look forward to seeing you all next Friday, participating and offering your own individual experience and expertise to that conversation.