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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Volunteer Scheme for Psychiatrists


Volunteer Scheme Overview

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is committed to supporting mental health care across the world, particularly in countries that are known to suffer from an acute shortage of psychiatrists.


The College’s volunteer scheme aims to facilitate contact between hospitals, clinics, projects and communities in need of psychiatric expertise and training, and psychiatrists who are willing to offer their time and support.


  • To read the College's Handbook for Volunteers, click here.



Register for the Volunteer Scheme

If you are a member of the College and would like to be added to the database of volunteers, please complete the Volunteers Registration Form. Once you are registered you will be contacted as and when suitable placements become available.  

Institutions that are interested in making use of a psychiatrist in the short or medium are invited to submit an Host Registration Form detailing the requirements and specifying the range of expertise required.


What the Volunteers think of their experience:

Singh with NHR sign

"This three months experience was wonderful and a profoundly creative experience. During this period I gained valuable experience which will contribute to work with people from a wide range of cultures.

"It also developed my skills to manage with limited resources. This three month placement helped me to understand the perception of mental health and illness in other cultures, the impact of global recourses - that is financial, cultural and environmental – on indigenous cultures and most importantly the understanding of means by which mental health diagnosis and treatment can be delivered where resources are scarce and the ability to prioritise those scarce resources is vital.

"There were also personal challenges; living there was at times quite lonely even though the people were extremely courteous and very helpful. All in all this three month placement was enormously worthwhile."

Dr Ashok N Singh, about his Solomon Islands placement with the WHO Pacific Mental Health Network, 2010.

Pantang Hospital 2

"It all seemed so different; the way the patients presented, how staff approached them, the family’s involvement - everything!

"Sometimes I’d feel compelled to advise the MAs to be more inquisitive or speed up a dragging consultation though I’d also remind myself of computer tutorials where the expert’s hands-off approach forced me to do things myself.

"I hoped that was possible here, yet these were actual patients and the MAs often appeared unaware of the risks involved.

"However, it was also clear that they were the only staff available to perform an incredible range of clinical duties, including specialities like child and learning disability psychiatry, as well as neurology and epilepsy." 

Dr Greg Neate - Locum Consultant Psychiatrist, Sussex Partnership, Out of Programme Experience in Ghana, May to August 2010


"One of the most enjoyable aspects of working here is the variety. No two days are the same, whether in terms of the work, or as a consequence of the quirky little Malawian occurrences that bring a smile or a shake of the head." 

Dr Robert C Stewart, Volunteer Placement in Malawai, 2005 - 2006. 

Other placements have included: Myanmar, Kenya, Chennai, Nairobi and Bangladesh.




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