The Royal College of Psychiatrists' Annual Convention
Posted Wednesday 7 November 2012
On October 11 & 12 I attended the The Royal College of Psychiatrists' Annual Convention. As a member of Mind, I was given the opportunity to listen to the views of eminent psychiatrists in relation to research in their line of study. As a mental health service user, I felt privileged to have the experience of taking part.
The event was very well organised although what couldn't be helped was that a couple of guest speakers were unable to attend. However, those that were present gave mostly thoughtful and accomplished presentations. The role of neuroscience was difficult to absorb but while talking to a couple of psychiatrists afterwards, they too expressed how perplexed they felt by that particular talk as well! There were no definite answers as to why so many people experience mental health problems.
It seems genes definitely play a big part in determining the course of mental illness but there are environmental and social factors as well that contribute to the overall functioning of a person living with mental illness. More research is required to find more definitive answers. Encouragingly though, progress is being made! This is especially the case in the biological components and factors of illnesses such as chronic depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
The theme for this year's convention was 'General Adult Psychiatry in Uncertain Times'. This may well be in light of government cuts in spending for NHS services. There were many positives though over the course of the two days.
What impressed me was the vastness of medications that are available to those of us afflicted with mental health problems. Medication has played a crucial role for me in terms of my Bipolar disorder. There is a role for cognitive behavioural therapies and so forth but I was reminded how fortunate I feel to have such an excellent relationship with my own psychiatrist. There are related problems to my disorder so learning the word "co-morbidity" was useful during the convention.
The programme for this event was varied and informative. My mind did wander a lot during the presentations but for the most part I was able to relate to what was being discussed. My favourite discussions centred around 'Generalised Anxiety Disorder' (the speakers were entertaining), and 'Acute Care Psychiatry Network'.
Trevor Turner gave an insightful talk in terms of a review of 'Inpatient Psychiatry'. I received inpatient treatment in hospital when I was first diagnosed with bipolar and later for substance abuse problems. My chemical dependency illness was a painful reminder of how I almost fell through the cracks of the mental health system when I first started to seek treatment eleven years ago when I was 23. Getting a correct diagnosis is difficult to establish when there is substance misuse. My bipolar illness worsened and progressed while doctors, therapists and counsellors tried to work out the underlying problems that were having a devastating effect on my health.
This leads me on to mention another of the talks I heard which centred on 'Early Intervention Network'. Doctors are trying ways to establish getting the right diagnosis for patients as early as possible. Psychoses often worsen for those of us affected unless there is an early intervention.
What made me feel sad was how so many people experience chronic & recurrent depression. Fortunately though, there are many treatments available for this harrowing illness, including ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), if required. I didn't have the opportunity to attend the seminar on Schizophrenia. Like Bipolar though, most medications can work with considerable success. Personality disorders were mentioned a lot over the course of the two days and these can play a big part in the lives of those sufferers.
I just wanted to conclude by writing that altogether I felt better educated in the time I spent at the conference. The material given will be eventually released in the pubic domain via their website.
Finally, I would like to mention the staff who work at the hotel where the conference was held. They were immensely courteous and friendly.
Mervyn, Mind member
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