“Choose psychiatry” is the plea to medical students

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has launched a national six-week media campaign to recruit more students into psychiatry. It’s receiving lots of attention…

Back in in the 1700’s people could be locked away in asylums for anything from melancholy, to wilfulness. And wives could be imprisoned by husbands, who could afford to pay, for lack of obedience… should they so desire.

There’s no doubt, we’ve come a long way when it comes to mental health. There is certainly less stigma. Invaluable awareness campaigns have facilitated much-needed conversations and it’s something we’re beginning to feel more comfortable about. Which is a good thing given 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year¹. That’s a quarter of the people where you work. 25% of the people sat on the train, tube, or bus, with you. That’s a lot of people.

Yet there’s still a lot of work to be done. That’s why The Royal College of Psychiatrists have launched a campaign to attract more medical students into psychiatry. Psychiatry is often seen as the ‘soft’ option in the medical profession. And, according to the college, in the past two years the number of doctors specialising in psychiatry has risen slower than other specialisms.

At the heart of the campaign is a video entitled ‘Choose Psychiatry’. The script is made up entirely from the testimony of real patients, yet portrayed and voiced by actors. It covers conditions we’re now all familiar with. PTSD, post-natal depression, bi-polar, depression following a stroke… Their words are heart-felt. And the message is clear. They were ill. Yet with the help, support and guidance from their psychiatrist, they got better.

And that’s the point. Not all, but many of the people who suffer from mental health issues if they seek the right help, can get better. Or, at least, learn to accept and live with their condition. It might not be life as others know it to be. But it’s a life that’s very much worth living.

PR Week, BBC Breakfast, Sky News Sunrise, radio and several national newspapers have already covered the recruitment drive. Not surprisingly, Stephen Fry (who does amazing work talking honestly and openly about his own battles with his mental health), has publicly endorsed the campaign on Twitter, saying “Doctors working in mental health are needed more than ever. I would urge medical students to #ChoosePsychiatry”

It is the first time the college has decided to run such a campaign. We hope we’re reading in the not too distant future that they’ve been successful. Because there’s a lot of people out there relying on these dedicated people to get on board.

Director of Strategic Comms at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Kim Catcheside, said: "In the past mental health has suffered from a lot of stigma, which means we have not often spoken about the people who treat mental disorders – psychiatrists. We need medical students to choose psychiatry, but we know that a lack of public understanding and recognition of the profession can be off-putting to young doctors.

"Our campaign has to explain what psychiatry is, combat stigma around mental health and the profession and make the case on behalf of patients that services are better with psychiatrists. It is a rich, multi-layered campaign that has taken a royal medical college into new outlets to ensure we have the widest reach with our messages."


Thursday, 14 September 2017

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“Choose psychiatry” is the plea to medical students