After three great years as President of the UK's Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor Wendy Burn welcomed Dr Adrian James to the role. Professor Burn formally passed the Presidency to Dr James at the College’s Annual General Meeting on 1 July, which was conducted virtually for the first time in the AGM’s history. Dr James – accompanied by Chief Executive Paul Rees – was at the College’s London office for the occasion, but other delegates joined remotely.
Adrian becomes the College’s 47th President after winning the Presidential election at the start of the year. A forensic psychiatrist and front-line clinician for 33 years,
he has served as the College’s Registrar for the last five years.
As President, he sees his priorities as:
Addressing racism and inequality
Adrian has recruited two race and equality leads to put together an action plan sets out how we can drive change to improve mental healthcare for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and tackle structural racism and discrimination within the NHS. Read more about what the College is doing to combat racism and Adrian’s statement about our work to combat racism.
Achieving equity between physical and mental health
Covid-19 has exposed and exacerbated health inequalities faced by those with mental illness. Building on pre-pandemic efforts to achieve equity, Adrian will continue to prioritise improving the health outcomes, physical and mental, of people with mental illness.
Supporting the workforce
The College has launched its first workforce strategy, so there is much to getting on with. Recruitment, retention and workforce wellbeing continue to be key priorities, but they have become even more urgent as a result of the pandemic.
Putting sustainability at the heart of all College work.
The climate crisis presents a significant challenge to global mental health and it is only right that psychiatry and psychiatrists step up in response to this challenge. The College will be embedding sustainability within all aspects of its own operations and seeking to influence government to improve the sustainability of mental health services.
Dr James said: “I’m humbled and delighted to become President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This is a pivotal time for psychiatry. I will focus my energies on achieving parity of esteem, addressing workforce wellbeing and championing diversity and the needs of marginalised groups. It is a great honour and I am determined to do everything I can to work with members and the College’s excellent staff team to make my Presidency a success.”
Author: Mr George King, Royal College of Psychiatrists