Despite attempts to recruit medical students to the profession, psychiatry continues to experience the longstanding problem of how to make the profession attractive.
The Telegraph newspaper recently reported that psychiatry is launching another campaign to try and encourage medical students to take up psychiatry over concerns that recruitment had ‘flatlined.’ The new President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Prof Wendy Burn, expressed her concerns stating that without psychiatrists, ‘high-quality care’ that patients deserve could not be delivered.
It’s a contentious point. For those who have experienced the debilitating effects of psychiatric treatments, it could be said that even with psychiatrists, the high-quality care that patients deserve still wouldn’t be delivered.
It is a profession that continues to be highlighted for the failures rather than the results. The media is littered with tragedies following so-called treatment. As an example, a BBC Panorama documentary broadcast in July 2017 centred on the killer James Holmes and the psychiatric treatment he received prior to the killings at a theatre in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. There was also the case of Katinka Newman who described herself as a dribbling, suicidal mess until she kicked the antidepressants and started rebuilding her life.
Psychiatry is also a profession that has the power to forcibly treat individuals who are held in detention under the Mental Health Act. Put the psychiatric failures and enforced nature of treatment together, and these may be some of the reasons discerning medical students choose a career path in real medicine, and avoid psychiatry.
Rather than psychiatrists, the profession is in need of some expert spin doctors. The approach to psychiatry in the UK was touched on in a telling article in 2008 in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Entitled “Wake-up call for British Psychiatry,” it stated “…it is commonplace in the UK to hear non-psychiatrists – and frequently psychiatrists themselves – referring to psychiatrists as not being ‘proper’ doctors.”
And the current recruitment crisis is not a new one. In June 2009, Professor Rob Howard, the then Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said then there were difficulties enticing UK medical graduates into the specialty of psychiatry. There were reports that those who chose medical specialties did not consider those pursuing psychiatry to be ‘real’ doctors.
Then in 2013, a study presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ congress found that 26% of medical students and 47% of the public said they would be uncomfortable sitting next to a psychiatrist at a party.
Psychiatry is the cuckoo in the nest. Its ‘treatments’ mask the real cause of problems in life and debilitate the individual, so denying him or her the opportunity for real recovery and hope for the future. Real recovery is the forte of real doctors who practice real medicine, not psychiatrists.
It’s time for psychiatry to leave the nest.