There are so many misunderstandings about Psychiatrists. This can be unhelpful for those who need our support most. Most people have ideas as to what we do (sadly not always very favourable) before we have even met, and this can be a barrier to accessing help. Some of these ideas are deep rooted, and let’s be honest we have had murky past. This is added to by some media representation of mental illness and Psychiatry. It will only increase stigma and discrimination. How can we as a profession address this? – through Public engagement and education.
There’s plenty of mental health information out there. As a fledgling academic I am interesting in the science behind mental illness. It’s an exciting field of research, but who wants to dredge through endless numbers and jargon to get to the facts? Public engagement is about communicating mental health knowledge and science in an exciting accurate way. Avoiding sensationalistion and painting a true picture. Psychiatry is about communication and relationships, so we should be good at this.
There is room for improvement, but I am keen to spread the word about some of the excellent sources of information already out there. The Mental Elf and the Royal College of Psychiatrists Public Education Committee and Public Education Editorial Board produce user-friendly evidence based information using social media and leaflets. Check out the links above for more information. You can listen to lively discussion about mental health on BBC three counties radio on Sundays at 12:00 (available on BBC iPlayer). This show presents different perspectives on mental illness and shares personal and professional experiences.