New Sustainability in Psychiatry Occasional Paper launched on NHS Sustainability Day March 26th 2015

Daniel Maughan's picture

Members of Psych SusNet, with the support from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare have written an Occasional Paper for the Royal College of Psychiatrists titled: Sustainability in Psychiatry. It is being launched today on NHS Sustainability Day 2015. 

Vanessa Cameron, CEO of RCPsych, who has been a crucial player in bringing about both this Occasional Paper and this focus on sustainability in psychiatry says that “the Royal College of Psychiatrists is committed to improving the sustainability of mental health care in the UK. We are delighted to be publishing “Sustainable Psychiatry” which is a key document setting out the principles of sustainable health care and what this means for mental health service delivery today.”

Sustainability is a new concept for psychiatry. It looks at how services can be more responsive not only to economic factors but also to environmental and social factors. Mental health care needs to continue providing clinically effective interventions, but to determine whether they are acceptable to patients and public, affordable for the NHS and responsive to the dwindling planetary resources requires a fresh focus on sustainability. This Occasional Paper explains how embedding the principles of sustainable health care can lead to services that are more person-centred and fit for the future. It provides an account of the carbon hotspots in mental health and what we need to do to reduce these aspects of care. It also provides several case studies of what sustainable models of care look like.

I hope you enjoy reading the paper…


A shift in paradigm would bring more sustainability.

Margaret Turner's picture

This paper has much to offer in terms of paying attention to social factors affecting mental health, in terms of causation, co-existence and recovery. However it is disappointing that it still upholds hegemenous concepts of disease and treatment - despite psychiatrists' own lucid critique in'Psychiatry beyond the current paradigm' by Bracken,P, Thomas, P, Timini S, Asen E, Behr, G, Beuster, C, et al 2012, Brit. J. of Psychiatry.

I suggest that an approach that uses formulation rather than diagnosis, (Johnstone, L and Dallos R. 2013. Formulation in Psychology and Psychotherapy,) that sees distress as arising in a social context, and that seeks to help by co-creating shared understanding of meanings, will be more humane as well as more sustainable. One such approach is Open Dialogue which helps people with minimal resort to medication, minimal admission to hospital and minimal chronicity. It achieves this through response at the time of crisis, through joining with the person and their family/significant others  to make sense of what is happening and help co-create change. Ref.

I can certainly endorse the benefits of creative therapies and ecotherapy - one man who had been intractably mute opened  up into conversation on a MindGrowers' organic allotment, and another MindGrower member said "This place does me far more good than seeing a psychiatrist!"


Register or log in to join our networks!