Psychiatrists Support Service: Offering Help & Support to Psychiatrists

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While specialising in psychiatry can be very satisfying as you help clients through their mental and emotional struggles, very often you could find yourself struggling with professional issues yourself. In the UK, there is now help for psychiatrists facing any type of difficulty in their professional life. Run by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Psychiatrists Support Service or PSS is a confidential helpline offers timely advice, support and signposting to practicing psychiatrists over the phone. The only stipulation is that the professional looking for help must a Member or Associate of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Professional difficulty includes but is not limited to issues such as addictions, abuse, examinations, disciplinary issues, career pathway problems or General Medical Council involvement. The service deals with all of these and other similar issues that may occur, but the most common issue that is faced is that of dealing with difficult colleagues and stressful working relationships. Because this is so common, the service is developing an information guide aimed at addressing this specific issue. 

Students working on the paediatrics ward at Morogoro Hospital How it works

All calls to the Psychiatrists Support Service helpline number are fielded by a PSS Manager. Only after verifying that the caller is a college member, and informing the caller about confidentiality and information protection issues, the service manager will proceed to discuss the case on an individual basis. The case is discussed with the Associate Registrar at the earliest and a consensus is reached about the most appropriate course of action for that particular case. 

The service manage is the primary contact point between the professional who has called the service and the various routes of help and support. The key role of the service manager is to put the caller in touch with a doctor adviser from the PSS who can provide much-needed advice and support over the phone.

The confidentiality question

All doctors who call the service are reminded that the service is confidential, except if the information that is disclosed is an issue that threatens personal or professional safety. In that case, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has a professional duty of care to report this to the appropriate authority or agency.  All doctors who contact the service are made aware every time they call.

What psychiatrists have to say about the PSS

Psychiatrists value being able to discuss their difficulty with someone who takes the time to understand the problem they are facing. They appreciate getting timely advice to help them sort out their problem and are positive about being able to contact the service without putting their professional credibility at risk. Improving their working environment allows them to focus on their patients more and give them the help and advice that they seek.

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