Royal College of Psychiatrists Volunteering & International Psychiatry Special Interest Group (vipsig) Committee Meeting Minutes

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Royal College of Psychiatrists

Volunteering & International Psychiatry Special Interest Group (VIPSIG)

Committee Meeting Minutes
Friday 14th August 2015

Royal College of Psychiatrists, London


Peter Hughes (Chair), Mandip Jheeta (Secretary), Mohammed Abou-Saleh, Ayesha Ahmad, Ben Baig, Sally Browning Heather Dipple, Louay El-Tagy, Gabriel Kogo, Raman Rashwany, Howard Ryland, Ashok Singh, Sophie Thomson


Mohammed El-Tahir, Lena Jawad, Ana Miorelli, Ruairi Page


No specific matters arising. Proceed to general meeting.


Minutes of last meeting (29.5.15)

  • Agreed to try one Birmingham meeting/ yr. Possibly Jan/ Apr 2016 TBC

  • Still working on VIPISG website link

  • PH now co-opted member of College Human Rights Committee

Matters arising

  • Confirmed regular schedule for VIPISG committee meetings: 1:30pm executive, 2:00pm general meeting

Feedback from Chair, Peter Hughes

  • VIPISG session at College International Congress went well

  • Myanmar training went extremely well. Yangoon & Mandaly training went very well. Nwè Winn Thein has organized funding for Burmese Prof of Psychiatry to visit UK. Training will be repeated in January for GPs, and also Train the Trainers course. mhGAP translated into Myanmar language. Meredith Newland did 3 month proper pre & post evaluation. As VIPSIG generally we may need to do better at evaluating pre & post for our events. Hopefully, will be able to collaborate with Meredith on this.

  • PH doing webinar on humanitarian work 2.9.15 16:00

  • All interested members encouraged to volunteer for College volunteer scheme

  • PH will be going to mhGAP October WHO meeting Geneva

  • PH’s survey preliminary findings:

    • Strong finding people weren’t getting enough preparation before trip or support afterward.

    • Volunteering is hugely helpful in various skills and transcultural skills gained

    • A lot of people didn’t know about volunteering scheme even though they had gone out with scheme,

    • People should be aware benefits of scheme- funding, college stamp/ approval etc

  • Volunteer scheme

    • HD not receiving info anymore from college volunteer scheme

    • 140 people registered as college volunteers.

    • Programme has moved towards shorter assignments

  • PH now on College human rights committee. Syria & Palestine could be potential for human rights committee links

  • There is a Palestinian Humanitarian Group, but no plans for MH projects

  • PH recently talked to Human Rights Watch, who were reporting tying, beating and locking up in Somaliland private hospitals

Workshop at College International Congress 2015

  • Session went well. Very good feedback ratings (5/5) on College Conference app. Informal feedback was also very good

  • Session was fully booked, but number of DNAs- perhaps due to workshop scheduled on last day

  • Value to NHS could be very good new angle for next workshop- about value of volunteering and how to convince employers of benefit etc.

    • E.g. ‘What benefit is there to NHS of global mental health volunteering?’

    • HD: has had colleagues who have had leave refused, even for 1 week

    • PH: one example raised of deaneries not allowing deferred intake to do global volunteering activities. Deferred entries would help

    • If College had a position to support global volunteering would be very helpful

    • Prev survey of medical directors, showed they have been supportive if cost neutral

Future events

  • Confirmed we will be doing mhGAP event at Springfield Hospital, date TBC, likely Sep 2015

  • Issues of different funding arrangements at College if over 50 people attending. We may consider additional smaller events held in College

  • BB: described how mental health first aid training good for police and fire fighters.

  • Psychological First Aid (PFA) training event, we will do, date TBC. Principles include focus on listening in empathic way, low intensity psychological intervention

    • PH: recently did Springfield PFA event with HCAs

    • SB: IoP also running other PFA training ongoing, charge £200+

    • ½ day PFA & ½ day orientation to volunteering prev considered. Could also integrate orientation into country-specific mhGAP events

    • PFA skills are very underrated

    • Discussed could do PFA with mhGAP-HIG (Humanitarian Intervention Guide)

      • RR, MAS kindly volunteered to help

      • We will discuss appetite for HIG event at upcoming mhGAP training

      • We could do a HIG version training session at College

      • We will discuss appetite for this at next mhgap event

Feedback from VIPSIG leads

  • MJ, finance:

    • VIPSIG finances healthy

  • ST:

    • Highlighted pots of money for trusts

    • Focus has been on training in UK

    • We could use money to invite people abroad for attachments

    • Could spend on marketing and website

    • We could spend bursary for support for other health professionals to do global volunteering e.g. professionals struggling with finances

  • SB, retirees:

    • Nick Rose did event about volunteering, and introduced VIPSIG at College retirees event

    • Some interested people talked to SB

    • Retirees often state that finance is an impediment to volunteering

  • RP, feedback forwarded ahead of meeting:

    • Facebook & twitter going well, people looking at things

    • 2 trainees have contacted re: joining VIPSIG

    • Twitter going well

    • Website

      • Some training videos added. More videos would be good

      • David Setchell (College website design) pleased w/ our new website,

      • Please inform if further ideas/ photos/ videos/ tweets etc

    • We now have VIPSIG advertising/ promoting leaflets

    • We may consider VIPSIG T-shirts for events etc.

  • LJ, feedback forwarded ahead of meeting:

    • Good website

    • Presented MH in Cambodia poster at College International Congress

    • Pan-London psychiatry trainees conference in November 2015. VIPSIG could do a session

  • PTC:

    • HR has done podcasts for newsletter. College has a machine, and the publications department do the editing. College also has a camera. HR thinks we could do a podcast, easy to do. No cost for college. Contact is Julia Burnside in College. HD happy to an Ethiopia podcast, ST also re Myanmar. Volunteers for this most welcome

  • Diaspora:

    • No feedback

  • Research:

    • AM sends apologies

    • BB believes huge gap globally for research skills. Feels research often hard to set up. Training about research skills in medical schools

    • AA: Has ethics background, can do research article. Research agenda for VIPSIG needs working out more.

    • PH: Evaluation of international projects may be best

    • ST: good angle would be about what LAMICs can teach HICs, and finding solutions to impossible

    • Turning the world upside down website recommended

    • RR: Basic standards for ethics in LAMICs could be helpful

    • AA’s input on ethics would be much appreciated and expertise. AA has done some ethics committee standards work in Palestine in paediatrics.

    • MAS: Could highlight what high income countries can/ do learn from LAMIC

      • Also investigating researching mhGAP training and its impact. Some work ongoing in Sri Lanka.

      • Feels what VIPSIG is doing could be evaluated. Could be significant untapped area.

      • HR: could link this to MSc programme, their students could be interested in developing this

    • Centre for Global Mental Health have asked PH to teach on their introduction module

    • BB: highlighted difficulties of start to finish evaluation. Research is a large piece of work

      • ST: Therefore: audit could be good, relatively simple with significant impact

Encouraging recruitment into psychiatry

    • Global MH related events very popular amongst med studs/ FYs, often they are unaware psychiatry has good volunteering opportunities, encourages recruitment into psychiatry

    • Historically, we have had good trainee attendance at VIPSIG mhGAP events, and quite a few medical students

    • We will promote upcoming mhGAP training to students & trainees

    • If another conference, could even pitch at trainee level esp. foundation doctors

    • HR: expanding FY placements could be good opportunities. Could do FY specific events

    • Could have global mental health themes for university psychiatry summer schools

    • MJ: Somaliland presentation has gone down well at Universities’ national PsychSoc conference

Essay Prize

  • Went well last year. 2015/16 prize to be advertised soon

  • MedMinds Birmingham Uni prize winning essay highlighted as UK volunteering & encouraging recruitment into psychiatry


  • mhGAP humanitatrian version started in Iraq and Liberia, more narrative than prev mhGAP manual

    • RR: Potential for Iraq links if there is a need, may have potential links

    • MAS & RR: HIG numerous potential for various middle Easy countries inc. Iraq, Lebanon. Iraq subcommittee may be able to contribute

    • Another edition due next week

Myanmar training

  • As above

Website & social media

  • Need to do redirection from old website

  • Maybe add some explanation on difference about VIPSIG & volunteers programme

  • Need to add webinar

  • Needs mhGAP manual & humanitarian version links on website

Finance & fundraising

  • Film making about volunteering could be valuable investment. We have budget. Would need professional support. Spirituality SIG making video

  • Martin Elphick’s wife Deidre made a Malawi/SMMHEP project film

International volunteer activities

  • Try to publicise MHIN- mental health innovation network, a collaboration between LSHTM & WHO Geneva. Could promote the webinars. Their webinars are very good, accessed through MHIN website.

  • MAS: Hoffman report: American Psychological Association collaborating with Pentagon and torture techniques. MAS to contact PH to bring up in Human Rights Committee for potential College statement about saying MH professionals should be against use of torture.

  • Discussed if College should have statement on domestic violence, FGM, unmodified ECT, chaining, beating, violence to patients, hitting patients. BB & RR saying complexities when very limited resources etc.

  • AA: Could document more about psychological impact long-term of drones, repeated bereavements, uncertainty i.e. how negative to well being. Could bring up in HRC.

    • ST noted it could be good to start with raising and highlighting issues.

  • RR: Claims in northern Iraq of some abuses by NGOs. Discussed if this could this be raised by HRC

  • PH: HRC could audit attitudes of VIPSIG members to HR issues

  • MAS: Syrian Refugees task force at college working on for 1 year. Now set up. Trying to raise awareness. Noted the task force is politically neutral.

    • MAS & PH have Lancet article coming soon

  • ST: Kashmir project: online supervision ongoing. Trying to evaluate how it works

  • Gondor Ethiopia happy to be contacted about

  • AS: highly recommends Malawi SMMHEP project

  • AS: MSF looking for Eritrea volunteers, will ask if they want to link with college volunteer programme

  • PH: Ghana project for higher trainees looking for people.

    • HR will send to PTC contact. Possibly only overseas experience recognized for training.

UK volunteering activities

  • Need to promote more. Essay prize helps to encourage this.


  • Needs more entries.

  • We need to market how it gets to everyone and publicise better

  • People encouraged to submit from all countries

  • New angles on older projects/ updates also very helpful

  • Potential ideas:

  • Ethics

  • What psychiatry is like in my country…

  • PTC/ European federation etc.

  • Retirees

  • Try to publicise MHIN- mental health innovation network & webinars

  • Puzzle

  • mhGAP-HIG, PH could do

  • More humanitarian rights submissions


  • We need to reach out more to psychologists

  • Conference discussed future national conference: HD, AA, LET interested

  • Victor Doku: we will confirm if continuing as secretary if health/ other issues

  • Med stud reps very enthusiastic

  • Dates of next meeting confirmed, 27.11.15. October meeting cancelled

Dates of next committee meetings

Venue: Royal College of Psychiatrists, London. 1:30pm- executive meeting, 2:00pm- general meeting.

  • Friday 27th November 2015

  • Friday 29th January 2016

  • Friday 13th May 2016

  • Friday 19th August 2016

  • Friday 11th November 2016

  • Please join us. All disciplines, students, trainees and non-psychiatrists very welcome.

  • (Please email beforehand to inform of your attendance as per building security policy)

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