Immediate past and current RCPsych presidents on the present and future of public mental health
11 August, 2023
These monthly blog posts by the Public Mental Health Implementation Centre (PMHIC), 'Perspectives on public mental health', aim to highlight the voices of practitioners, patients, carers, and public health experts.
Welcome to this month’s blog post, in which Dr Adrian James and Dr Lade Smith CBE discuss their shared vision of public mental health, highlighting their commitment to addressing challenges, fostering partnerships and driving impactful strategies in this area.
Dr Adrian James, Immediate Past RCPsych President
One of the overarching principles during my tenure as RCPsych President has been prevention. Detecting and treating illnesses early while also shifting the focus to promoting health and wellbeing is an essential part of making public healthcare more effective and sustainable.
The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) has played a huge part in this by coordinating a wider partnership to improve access to the services which detect and act on health risks and conditions while acting on the wider factors that contribute to people’s health.
Another instrumental driver of this has been the work of the Public Mental Health Implementation Centre (PMHIC), which was established in 2021. PMHIC’s dedication to working in partnership with relevant bodies to support the improved implementation of evidence-based public mental health interventions has been key to sustainably reducing disease burden from mental disorder, try to address the treatment and implementation gap and promoting population mental wellbeing and resilience.
All of this was central to one of my Presidential priorities – putting sustainability at the heart of all we do. I am proud to reflect on the progress made, particularly when we found out that in October 2022 that we were named as second in the leaderboard of 28 other UK health organisations in terms of the action taken and sustainability credentials.
As we shift perspectives from my tenure as the RCPsych President to the beginning of my esteemed colleague's role as the new President, I am confident in the College’s ability to continue leading by example in showing that sustainable practice in mental health services is not only possible but exciting and necessary to the future of public mental health.
As I begin my tenure as the President of the RCPsych, I want to highlight some key aspects of the vision that will be the driving force of my Presidency for public mental health.
It is undeniable that psychiatry is facing unprecedented challenges – the pandemic, increased demand, chronic resource deficits and workforce shortages. Yet mental health is being discussed like never before.
I’m keen on seizing this opportunity to ensure that psychiatry and public mental health are high on the agenda of decision-makers and leaders.
Central to this will be the continuation of the important work done by PMHIC. I will champion their work by developing leadership in public mental health and ensuring that this is present in clinical and policy research, so that we can drive forward the progression of evidence-based interventions, from research to implementation. This will be instrumental in our ambitions to achieve parity of esteem between physical and mental health, address the treatment gap for mental health. conditions, with emphasis on prevention and promotion.
I look forward to carrying forward PMHIC’s partnership approach by strengthening the partnerships that already exist while forging new ones, to tackle the challenges that we will face in the future.