The Royal College of Psychiatrists is the professional medical body responsible for supporting psychiatrists throughout their careers, from training through to retirement. It sets and raises standards of psychiatry in the United Kingdom. It is an independent professional membership organisation and registered charity representing over 15,000 psychiatrists in the UK and Internationally. We aim to improve outcomes of people with mental illness: individuals, their families and communities. The College promotes excellence in psychiatry; leads, represents and supports psychiatrists; improves the scientific understanding of mental illness; works with and advocates for patients, carers and their organisations. Nationally and internationally, the College has a vital role in representing the expertise of the psychiatric profession to governments and other agencies.
The core purposes include:
- Set standards and promote excellence in psychiatry and mental healthcare.
- Lead, represent and support psychiatrists.
- Work with patients, carers and other organisations to deliver high quality mental health services.
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How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is committed to reducing suicide and improving support for those bereaved or affected by suicide. We are at the forefront in setting and achieving the highest standards through education, training and research. We lead the way in developing excellence and promoting best practice in mental health services. We promote research and publish the results in our world-class psychiatric journals. We support members and associates throughout their careers to meet the requirements of continuous professional development, appraisal and revalidation, and provide practical support to those who have difficulties in meeting these requirements. The College Centre for Advanced Learning and Conferences includes training courses to develop the skills needed to train the next generation. Our portfolio includes suicide prevention training which equips psychiatrists and allied professionals to compassionately and robustly assess and respond safely to patients at risk of suicide. We collaborate with key players in the mental health/suicide prevention field and are champions for improvements in the quality of mental healthcare throughout all sectors of society. Public education is at the heart of our activities and is an essential component of our website. We strive to maximise the influence of the College in mental health and related policy in all four UK Countries and we will collaborate with relevant bodies to promote robust suicide prevent initiatives. We ensure that mental health continues to be at the heart of the public health agenda and that mental health issues are fully considered in emerging social care and welfare policies.
What are your current priorities?
To continue to facilitate adequate recruitment and retention of psychiatrists via influencing workforce and training
- To promote and demonstrate the central and particular role of psychiatrists to the risk assessment process within mental health services and improve public understanding of this role. The College Patient Safety Working Group promotes that a risk assessment is also an opportunity for a therapeutic intervention. They review latest research, policy and practice to understand how patient, practitioner and organisational factors contribute to the risk assessment process and influence College policy accordingly.
- To ensure all psychiatrists know the value of engaging with patients and carers to develop a person centred safety plan and longer term suicide mitigation plan. To ensure that these competencies are delivered through the College curriculum. To work jointly with Heads of Schools to ensure this is achieved.
- To increase membership of the existing College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) subscription networks.
- To promote and expand readership of the College’s scientific journals and online publications by offering special arrangements for international psychiatric associations.
Promote the highest standards of assessing and responding to patients at risk of suicide or engaging in self-harm
- To continue to promote the highest possible standards through education, training and research.
- To continue supporting members and associates throughout their careers to meet the requirements of continuous professional development, appraisal and revalidation, and provide practical support to those who have difficulties in meeting these requirements. The College Patient Safety Working Group provides expert advice regarding how College policy and standards can ensure excellent patient care.
- The College Centre for Advanced Learning and Conferences includes training courses to develop the skills needed to train the next generation of psychiatrists and maintain the skill and expertise of current members. Our portfolio includes suicide prevention training which equips psychiatrists and allied professionals to compassionately and robustly assess and respond safely to patients at risk of suicide.
Work with other colleges and professional institutions to ensure excellence in the care of patients at risk of suicide to further enhance standards for individual practice and services
- Continue to convene, lead and collaborate in cross-college working groups to improve the care of patients who may be at risk of suicide. Communicate and disseminate new initiatives from the Forum for Mental Health in Primary Care, in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
- Continue working with the RCGP and other stakeholders on the commissioning of mental health services by supporting the work of the Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health (JCP-MH). Support members through the changes in legislation affecting the commissioning of psychiatric services.
- Ensure primary and secondary medical care is addressed and supported in College publications such as CPD Online, the Seminars series and via The College Centre for Advanced Learning and Conferences suicide prevention training. This is also delivered on site to increase its uptake from professional groups who may not see themselves as having a pivotal role in suicide prevention.
Communication & engagement
- The College has worked hard to develop media contacts through its press work and public education campaigns. Members of the College are increasingly interested in working effectively with the media. We are committed to collaborating with the media to provide evidenced based and timely advice regarding suicide and self-harm in a way which promotes understanding, awareness, hope and appropriate help-seeking and reduces stigma. We continue to develop understanding and building awareness of what psychiatry is and what it can do continues to underpin our media strategy. We will continue to use our profile and social media presence to support campaigning against the stigma of suicide and mental health, nationally and internationally.
- We have engaged with regular World Suicide Prevention Day Campaigns and will continue to do so in line with the World Health Organisation and International Association of Suicide Prevention priorities.
- We will ensure that all our relevant patient mental health and suicide prevention information reflects the current evidence base. We were one of the main partners in the development of the U Can Cope film and online resource.
- Our leaflets were designed for people in distress and those trying to support them to instil hope, promote appropriate self-help and inform people regarding useful strategies and how they can access help and support:
- U Can Cope – originally designed to help younger people develop resilience and cope with any current/future difficulties in their life. Just as helpful for adults of all ages! http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/parentsandyouthinfo/youngpeople/ucancope.aspx
- Feeling overwhelmed: helping you stay safe – for anybody struggling to cope when bad things happen in their life. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/feelingoverwhelmed.aspx
- Feeling on the edge: helping you get through it – for people in distress attending the Emergency Department following self-harm or with suicidal thoughts. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/feelingontheedge.aspx
- Pocket-sized leaflets can be ordered via firstname.lastname@example.org
- We contributed to the new resource for people in distress called Staying safe if you’re not sure life’s worth living which includes practical, compassionate advice and many useful links for people in distress.
To continue to contribute to lobby government and contribute to public policy
- To ensure that mental health continues to be at the heart of the public health agenda and that mental health issues are fully considered in emerging social care and welfare policies.
- Maximise the influence of the College in mental health and suicide prevention and related policy in all four UK jurisdictions. All jurisdictions of the College work closely together to share policy priorities and new initiatives, ensuring that College policy in one jurisdiction informs, and is considered in, the other jurisdiction.
- Strengthen policy and parliamentary communication channels and joint working on shared priorities (e.g. national suicide prevention plans)
To continue to collaborate with people with lived experience and their carers and supporters to reduce suicide
- Patient experience and providing excellent evidenced based care is central to the work of the College. We will continue to listen to and work in partnership with our Service Users’ Forum (SUF) and Carers’ Forum to ensure best practice in patient and carer involvement. We will continue to include service users and carers in College activities wherever appropriate and to ensure representation across key coalitions and advisory groups in all the UK jurisdiction
- To work with relevant College committees to identify priorities in terms of human rights and advise on relevant policy and legislation.
- To include a measure of unmet need in the commissioning guidance.
What challenges are you currently facing?
Many mental health services under severe pressure, which will require both extra funds, new waiting times and access standards. The College is committed to ensuring parity of esteem between mental and physical health and this parity is required to ensure that the funding systems for mental health are similar to those for acute services. Robust and clinically relevant outcome measures are required. The future of the NHS requires integration between physical and mental health and yet sadly stigma and a lack of awareness within the wider NHS still needs to be improved despite significant in-roads to tackling stigma in the general population. We are committed to championing understanding of mental illness, suicidal thoughts and self-harm through our campaigning and political activities. We highlight the attitudes, skills and knowledge required by psychiatrists and our curriculum and examinations committee strive to ensure excellent standards are achieved so that our members can both put these into practice and disseminate them.