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Public need more awareness of serious mental health conditions

Serious mental health conditions are not fully understood by the public, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has said.

Serious mental health conditions are not fully understood by the public, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has said.


The Royal College of Psychiatry has launched a campaign ​​​​​​to
encourage more people to train as psychiatrists. Picture: Alamy

It follows a YouGov poll of 2,090 adults, commissioned by the college.

Tackling stigma

RCP president Wendy Burn said: ‘The work done to tackle stigma has been astounding and I could not be prouder of the open culture we’re fostering about mental health.

‘But our poll shows that people do not fully appreciate how severe mental illness can be.’

The RCP believes awareness work for mental health conditions has been focussed too much on milder conditions such as depression and anxiety, finding:

•    Only 59% of the public expect a referral to a consultant for an eating disorder compared to 86% for cancer.
•    Less than a quarter (23%) knew addiction to opioids is more deadly than cervical cancer.
•    Only 44% expected consultant referral for alcohol addiction.
•    42% of people did not know bipolar disorder should by diagnosed by a psychiatrist.

Choose Psychiatry campaign

The RCP has launched a campaign called Choose Psychiatry to encourage more people to train as psychiatrists.

Professor Burn added: ‘Early intervention is crucial to avoid patients reaching a crisis – but this can only be done if the skilled workforce is there to intervene.’

Figures published by the RCP showed psychiatry consultants increased by just 1.7% in the last five years, while the number of consultants across the rest of the NHS increased by 20.2%.


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