The pilot event saw 5 sixth form students with an interest in psychiatry and other mental health related careers, receive 2 days' worth of presentations and workshops.
The school commenced with several talks from those working in the mental healthcare sector. Students received an overview of how broad mental health is as a career path, with presentations ranging from working in research through to the variety of allied health professions in mental health.
For students interested in following the medical route, the day also included a presentation from medical students, detailing the routes into psychiatry. We were also grateful for Dr Elaine Lockhart, who gave an insight into specialisms within psychiatry.
In the current parliamentary term, RCPsych Wales is providing secretariat to a Senedd Cross Party Group on Climate, Nature and Wellbeing. One of the groups members, Dr Kathryn Speedy, gave a presentation to the students on mental health and climate change. The talk particularly focused on the large carbon footprint of the healthcare sector and what could be done to mitigate this. The session culminated in a discussion about what young people can do to improve the environment, and which forms the messaging around climate change should take to avoid causing excessive anxiety.
RCPysch Wales has previously, and is currently, involved in work to support refugee mental health. To compliment this, the students completed a workshop that looked to design a welcome centre for refugees. The workshop aimed to encourage thought around how all aspects of life can be conducive to good mental and physical wellbeing (access to open spaces, community groups, employment etc) and around how best to provide mental healthcare to a vulnerable community.
The topics discussed on the first day were consolidated with a visit and tour of the Senedd, where students had opportunities to present their thoughts to Sarah Murphy MS (Senedd Member for Bridgend), and to speak to Senior officials from the Senedd Research team about how decisions in Wales are made.
The Senedd tour allowed the students to see the very real impact which those working in the mental health sector can have on government policy, particularly as on the day Prof Keith Lloyd was giving evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee on Mental Health Inequalities.
They had the opportunity to learn how motions were tabled and over the two days could see how mental health research can underpin new laws.
The feedback from the students and partners has been very positive, giving us a foundation upon which to grow the summer school in the coming years. We'd like to extend out thanks to Prof Alka Ahuja and Gemma Johns from TEC Cymru, Ollie John and Annie Fabian from RCPsych Wales, our management attachment Dr Jo Doherty, and to all our contributors for all the support in organising and facilitating.