Stephen Fry and Alastair Campbell back RCPsych’s award-winning recruitment campaign

Press release
24 October 2023

Today (Tuesday 24 October) the Royal College of Psychiatrists is launching a campaign to encourage more people to #ChoosePsychiatry as a career. The campaign has been backed by actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry, alongside communicator, writer and strategist, Alastair Campbell.

With many junior doctors soon to select their speciality training preferences, Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Professor Subodh Dave is urging medical students and foundation doctors to make a difference and #ChoosePsychiatry.

Professor Subodh Dave said:

“We need psychiatrists now more than ever. A career in psychiatry offers stability and long-term career opportunities, it is also extremely rewarding. We are the only medical speciality that treats the whole person, by addressing their mental health, physical health, and social needs. It is also intellectually stimulating with many specialist areas to choose from, ranging from children through to old age and expanding areas like addiction, eating disorders and forensic psychiatry.”

Stephen Fry, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists shared his hope for more doctors and medical students to choose psychiatry. Watch his video message here:

Separately, he also said:

“Young people preparing for medical careers are realising more and more that the most exciting frontier in medicine is the human mind. But its study is more than just an intellectual challenge, it is a pathway to a life in psychiatry - the specialism that fights on the front line in our war against mental illness.

“It’s vital and rewarding work. I’ve encountered many doctors who have regretted, later in their careers, that they did not choose psychiatry, but I have never met one who regretted that they did. Because despite what you might think or have heard, psychiatry daily solves problems, saves lives, helps, and heals.

“I know I can say with absolute truth that psychiatry saved my life at its lowest moment. I don’t believe I would be here today if it were not for the psychiatrist who rescued me. The smartest and most caring minds are needed in this field and - happily - the trend towards choosing psychiatry as a speciality has lately been upward, upward, upward.”

Alastair Campbell, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, shared his experiences of severe depression and the psychiatrist who helped him:

“My mental health has definitely improved in recent years and much of that is down to the psychiatrist I saw over a number of years, David Sturgeon.

“It took time and patience on both our parts, but I am in little doubt that I could not have made the progress I have made without him. He helped me to see far more clearly issues that had been causing me psychological problems for years, and he was and remains someone I can always turn to when depression or anxiety strike. Whatever else is going on he always has genuine concern for me and my family.

“I know there are countless people like me who have benefited from his professionalism and his wisdom, and we need more people like him in our surgeries and hospitals. Whenever I hear of a medical student choosing psychiatry, I feel happy knowing that everyone who does choose psychiatry has the chance to make this a better world.”

Dr Lade Smith CBE, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“We are currently facing a mental health emergency, with almost 1.4 million people in England waiting for mental health treatments, and 1.35 million people out of work due to their mental illness, including depression. Demand for our services is high, and the brilliant work our psychiatrists deliver every day, affects the lives of thousands. By joining the profession, you too can be part of this remarkable metamorphosis, supporting people's transformation from illness to health.”

The six-week #ChoosePsychiatry campaign will run until Friday 1 December. This year it launches with a unique film, featuring four psychiatrists, from different specialties, at various stages of their careers being interviewed by a patient. View the campaign video below:

Now in its seventh year since #ChoosePsychiatry was launched, the campaign has increased the number of doctors choosing to study psychiatry, with core psychiatry training fill rates improving from 67% in 2017 to at least 99% in each of the past four years (2020-2023) across Great Britain.

But we cannot afford to be complacent; doctors need to continue to #ChoosePsychiatry. Find out more about choosing a career in psychiatry.

Make a difference – choose psychiatry

Considering a career in psychiatry? Hear from working psychiatrists why they chose psychiatry and how rewarding the job can be.

Or if you've taken a break from work or training, let us show you the wide range of support on offer as you return.

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