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        Proposal for a special interest group in occupational psychiatry
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        Proposal for a special interest group in occupational psychiatry
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Procedure for establishing a special interest group:

  1. (1) Any member wishing to establish a special interest group shall write to the Registrar with relevant details

  2. (2) The Registrar shall forward the application to Council.

  3. (3) If Council approves the principle of establishing such a special interest group, then it will direct the Registrar to place a notice in the Bulletin, or its equivalent, asking members of the College to write in support of such a group and expressing willingness to participate in its activities.

  4. (4) If at least 120 members reply to this notice within 4 months of publication, then Council shall formally approve the establishment of the special interest group.

In accordance with this procedure, Council has approved a proposal for the establishment of a special interest group in occupational psychiatry.

Background to the proposal from Dr John Sharkey:

The importance of work

When we think of who and what we are, work is an important consideration. We are increasingly dependent upon the workplace for our status, our social circle and our identity. Our occupation occupies us more than our hobbies, our families or our community. We are more likely to be depressed if we have no work. Work is central to our lives.

The workplace and mental health

Work pressures have changed with the move from an industrial to a knowledge economy. Depression has become more significant than musculoskeletal complaints as a reason for absence from work. There is media speculation of a stress epidemic. Doctors have become increasingly unhappy. Recent research from the Royal College of Psychiatrists has revealed the extent of burnout and psychological distress among psychiatrists.

Occupational psychiatry?

Occupational medicine is a specialism as is occupational psychology, so why not occupational psychiatry? Occupational medicine is increasingly orientated towards mental health issues. Work pressure is an aetiological factor within the stress vulnerability model for all mental health problems. Some psychiatrists are already interested in the relationship between work and mental health and it seems logical that they form a group. In the United States, psychiatrists have organised themselves to provide a united voice about workplace matters and have gained a foothold in the corporate world as a consequence.

What would the special interest group in occupational psychiatry do?

The group would be at the forefront in collating opinion and developing training in occupational psychiatry. At present there is no formal training in occupational psychiatry in the UK.

With time this group will hopefully be able to banish the word stress to history. While distress cannot be eradicated, it is possible to develop a more accurate agreed and constructive language to describe distress and psychiatric syndromes arising within the workplace.

Dissemination of considered opinion would benefit patient care. A greater knowledge of the helpful and detrimental aspects of work and principles on how to manage these would also be useful for ourselves.

Members are invited to write in support of this group and express willingness to participate in its activities. Interested members should write to the Registrar care of Miss Sue Duncan at the College. If 120 members reply to this notice within 4 months of publication, then Council shall formally approve the establishment of this special interest group.