RCPsych in Scotland Autumn Zoom Meeting
20 September, 2022
Stigma Sessions with See Me Scotland
In the morning we have the benefit of a session facilitated by See Me, Scotland's programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination. It’s likely that anyone working in Mental Health Services has experience of these. The people we work with are regularly discriminated against or stigmatised and we are aware of what a destructive process this can be, worsening a person’s health and often interfering with recovery. Societal attitudes linked to this can affect the likelihood of a person seeking help for mental health problems, and lead to further suffering in silence and isolation.
We need to be alert and call out practice and language that does not match our values. Sadly, we have instances recently reported in the media where even our fellow psychiatrists will use insensitive and even offensive language. With such high impacts and grave consequences to stigma, we must each decide whether we will stand by or stand up. As a Devolved Council, we are standing up and facing the problem of stigma, and we encourage you to do the same.
During the morning session we will dig further into these concepts and the repercussions and hear first-hand accounts of what this feels like. We experience stigma too as a profession, related to the stigma experienced by those we help. This sets up negative feedback loops in teams, affects training and recruitment, and harms our long-term health as a specialty and as a service. For a personal view, we have the good fortune to be joined by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland Chair, Dr Linda Findlay, who will be telling us why stigma is such an important matter for her.
Changing systems and changing minds is demanding work though. Even when we have evidence that there are problems and change is needed, we can still feel challenged and powerless to make real change. Thus, we will finish the morning session with a facilitated workshop which aims to give you the tools to address stigma and discrimination and to become part of the solution.
Inclusion and Psychiatry
The afternoon will focus on going one step further and looks at inclusion. We aim to move past accessibility and ensure that we are a body that considers and adapts to the wide range of abilities our colleagues have. By embracing diversity, we have a richer experience, and everyone benefits. It is rarely the case that making an event more accessible to a group makes it less accessible to others, and this same principle can be used in meetings and in the design and running of services. At the session we will be looking at inclusion for people who are neurodiverse, the challenges that come with this and what we can learn and do to improve. We will be hearing about services for transgender people as well, considering the specific barriers that this group encounters and what can be done to make things more equitable. Once again, principles for running services can be transferred to other settings and will be of wide utility.
We will also be considering “social graces.” This session, led by John Burnham, consultant Family and Systemic Psychotherapist, will look at our language. One of the most anxiety provoking social experiences is to face an interaction with someone you have not met before, and to fear you will make an inadvertent offensive comment out of ignorance. As we all know, anxiety makes the situation worse and can result in a stilted and jarring interaction that, even if the “right” words are used, can leave both people feeling unsatisfied. In this session we will be exploring how to approach these challenges, and the skills you need to navigate such an interaction so that both parties can have a more satisfying interaction.
I am also on the lookout for more for topics that members would like to see at upcoming meetings, so please do get in touch if there is anything you feel you would like to see in the future. Although not possible for this meeting, we will be returning to some in person meetings in the future which we are all looking forward to.
The Autumn meeting will be held remotely on Friday September 30th, 2022, and I hope to see many of you there.