A LEADING psychiatrist has called for medical students to enter the field to ease pressures on mental health services.
Dr Ayesha Rahim, a consultant psychiatrist and deputy medical director at Lancashire Care, who provide mental health and wellbeing services in Lancashire, said that more needed to be done to recruit psychiatrists in East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen.
She also called for more funding and provision for psychiatric and community mental health services in the area to meet a ‘growing demand’.
Speaking on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, of which she is a member, Dr Rahim, 37, who also works at Blackburn with Darwen start team at Lancashire Care, a community mental health team, as a consultant psychiatrist, said: “I’d like to encourage medical students and junior doctors to pursue psychiatry as a career.
“The number of medical students doing psychiatry is not increasing at the same rate as other health professions because of the negative perceptions surrounding psychiatry and the mental health stigma.
“Access to doctors that are specialists is quite variable across the UK, and lots of people who need care aren’t able to get it, yet the number of referrals to mental health services is increasing.”
Her calls come as the #ChoosePsychiatry campaign has been launched by the Royal College of Psychiatrists aimed at increasing the number of people who enter the profession.
Figures from Public Health England also show that 1.1 per cent of the population of Blackburn with Darwen has a mental health problem, while the borough’s suicide rate for both sexes was 10 per 100,000 for 2012 /2014, both higher than the national average.
Dr Rahim, who has worked in mental health for 13 years, said: “My main concerns as a psychiatrist would be to improve how mental health is delivered, as there’s a bit of a mismatch currently been the growing number of people needing to receive support and what’s currently available.
“So I’d like to see access to help and funding improve in the UK and Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire.
“More people do need to get into psychiatry as a career, as this will help improve access to services for patients who will otherwise be impacted by a lack of specialist doctors.”
Dr Rahim, who has also worked for the community mental health team at Daisyfield Centre, Appleby Street, Blackburn, said the Blackburn with Darwen Start team where she works consists of a psychiatrist, psychologist, nurses and occupational therapists.
The service receives referrals from GPs, police and social services across Blackburn with Darwen, including people with severe depression, bipolar and schizophrenia.
Dr Rahim added: “I see patients face-to-face, conduct mental health assessments and diagnosis and offer talking therapies.
“The work we offer as a service is extremely important and we’re the frontline to mental health – patients will come here first when they’re referred.
“I love my job and I would recommend a career in psychiatry to anyone.”