The Wounded Healer: Film & Panel

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Wednesday, 17 May 2017 – 5:30pm

‘Stigma is killing people’ Dr Ahmed Hankir says in his passionate crusade fighting for those with mental health issues. Through his personal journey in a life as both ‘the wounded’ and ‘the healer’ the film takes us into the subjective experience of ‘The Wounded Healer’ and Hankir’s moving campaign to fight stigma.

The film is followed by Q&A with Dr Ahmed Hankir and Sal Anderson.

Dr Ahmed Hankir is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies, Florida, USA., Harvard Medical School Global Clinical Scholar and Research Fellow of BCMHR in association with Cambridge University. Dr Hankir’s talks on the Wounded Healer have been delivered to more than 20,000 people, across 20 universities worldwide and have been integrated into the curricula of several UK medical schools.

Sal Anderson is an award-winning filmmaker and has received a number of Wellcome Trust Arts Awards for films and research into visual agnosia and epilepsy. Sal is a founder member of the Cinema and Psychosis research group and is director of The Institute of Inner Vision, supporting filmmakers with lived experience of mental health conditions.

All UCL students welcome!

Date: Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Time: 5:30pm
Venue(s):  Darwin Lecture Theatre – TBC

Medfest 2017: Eros & Thanatos

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“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and the other begins?” —Edgar Allan Poe

The delicate balance between life and death is often dealt with internally. We all have thoughts on the matter, but it can be difficult to externalise them or share them properly.

This year, at Medfest, UCLU MedSoc Psychiatry are breaching this taboo subject and questioning our own preconceptions about life and death through film and discussion with:

  • Liz Tucker – BATFA winner, director and producer of the Channel 5 documentary “Filming My Father: In Life and Death”
  • Dr Rasha Al-Qurainy – Consultant in Palliative Medicine, UCLH & HCA Palliative Care Team Camden
  • Dr Elizabeth Baquedano – Honorary Senior Lecturer at UCL Institute of Archaeology
  • Dr Georgia Belam (chair) – co-lead of the Medfest Central Organising Committee, Psychiatry Trainee in Surrey

The full list of films we will be showing can be found at So do join us for what will undoubtedly be a thought-provoking evening! Refreshments are provided and all are welcome. And as always, Medfest is absolutely FREE to attend!.

Friday 10th March 2017, 6-9pm. Lecture Theatre 1, Cruciform Building, UCL (TBC).

See our Facebook event for details.

About Medfest

Medfest is an international film festival which aims to promote and discuss topics relevant to the medical profession through the medium of film.  Medfest is held each Spring at medical schools across the UK, Ireland and further afield. It is an evening event whereby a selection of short film clips are shown and discussed by a panel of eminent speakers before the floor is opened to the audience for comments and questions.

It is primarily funded by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and led by junior doctors training in psychiatry, whilst local events are organised and run by medical students.

Psych Buddy Scheme Launch

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Thank you to everyone who came to our second annual Psych Buddy Scheme Launch!

Yesterday evening was a huge success with the consumption of lots of pizza… (and wine).

It was highly interactive and we hope to hold more evenings like this to ensure everyone maintains contact with their buddies.

It is Alcohol Awareness Week next week so hope to see you all in the North Cloisters from 2-5pm on 19th November, where we will be giving out free baked goods in exchange for a chat (it’s that easy!)

See you all soon.

Psychiatry Section 2015-2016

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Welcome to the Psychiatry Section Homepage!

Firstly, congratulations to Dr Rory Conn, our patron, for winning the Battle of the Specialties on behalf of Psychiatry, by demonstrating how diverse the specialty is.

This year, we aim to bring you more events for you to find out more about Psychiatry and hopefully get involved by joining our one-year-old Psychiatry Buddy Scheme.

We are currently looking for a first and second year medical student to be part of the committee, so just let us know if you would be interested – no past experience needed!

Stay tuned to find out what will be going on this year.

Mindfulness in Medicine Event Next Monday

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Do you have an interest in Psychiatry or Neuroscience? Or both??
Join us on Monday January the 19th for a fascinating talk entitled:
Mindfulness: Neuroscience and Clinical Applications

The talk will be given by Dr. Elena Antonova who is a researcher at Kings College London, currently leading the UK’s first MSc in Mindfulness. Her main research interest is in the neuroscience of mindfulness with the application to the prevention, management, and treatment of psychosis and schizophrenia.

A bit of background about Mindfulness…
Mindfulness is a very simple form of meditation that was little known in the West until recently. A typical meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.

Mindfulness is at least as good as drugs or counselling for the treatment of clinical-level depression. One structured programme known as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is now one of the preferred treatments recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).


mindfulness pic

BETHLEM AND BEYOND: a whistle-stop tour of psychiatry… 

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At the Psychiatry section we’re getting very exciting for our upcoming dual event celebrating all things psych!

We’ll be kicking off the week on Tuesday 2nd December with our ‘Meet the Shrinks’ event. This will be an exciting opportunity for anyone who’s interested in psychiatry to learn more about the vast array of sub-specialties available within psychiatry. Begone the old-fashioned image of a psychiatrist asking you about your relationship with your mother whilst you lie on a couch. Instead welcome to the reality of psychiatry: a truly vibrant and varied specialty. We’ll be hearing from psychiatrists who specialise in everything from Children and Adolescents to Old Age with a bit of Forensics and Psychotherapy thrown in for good measure! After hearing from each of these fascinating speakers they’ll be plenty of opportunity to ask questions with many of the psychiatrists staying afterwards to chat further with students. An event not to be missed!!

Not ones to do things by halves, here at the Psych section we felt one event was simply not enough to give people a true taste of psychiatry! On Saturday 6th December we’ll be heading for a riveting day out at the ‘Museum of the Mind.’ Located within the grounds of London’s Royal Bethelm Hospital, historically the UK’s first asylum, the Museum will allow us to explore the fascinating history of mental health. Whilst at the Museum we’ll also have the opportunity to explore its gallery which includes work done by previous patients at the hospital. Here we’ll have chance to see first-hand the vast interplay between art and psychiatry.

For more information check out our event on Facebook!

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Our 1st event was a hit!

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A record turn-out of MedSoc members, homemade cakes, bottomless wine glasses and a fantastic professional husband and wife team made for a magnificent MedSoc Monday event.   Last week, the UCL Harrie Massey Lecture Theatre was taken over by a host of enthusiastic medical students of all ages and stages in training.  The speakers – Dr Rory Conn a child and adolescent psychiatrist and Dr Chloe Bulwer, a paediatrician both currently working at ICH and Great Ormond Street provided an inspiring and engaging discussion of the overlap between the two specialties. Four cases were discussed.

Case one – constipation in a 7 year old boy with an anxious mother.  Key points of interest included the impact of missing school at this age, and the distinction between functional and medical causes of constipation.  Defaecating can undeniably become a psychological challenge particularly when previous fissures lead to an association with discomfort or pain of with parental obsession or despair when toilet training causes sensitisation to an essential daily task.  This case also highlighted, however, that paediatricians can deal with some psychological issues themselves. Interventions such as star charts, laxatives, exercise and normalising of toileting behaviour are possible without psychiatric input.

Case two – ‘fitting’ for a psychiatrist – explored the fascinating case of a young child having what appeared to be seizures. The child would frequently fall to the floor with no prior warning. These unexpected attacks would happen utterly randomly, whilst the child was mid-sentence or, even, whilst on the stairs. Interestingly, though, the child never sustained any injuries during these ‘seizures’ and would recover relatively quickly. It was these factors, combined with the impact upon the child’s life who was now frequently missing school, which led to the transfer of the case to the psychiatry team. After several meetings it transpired that the child had been feeling severely anxious about his transition to high school. Whilst this move was still 18 months away the child was feeling the pressure. Having aired these anxieties and learnt to deal with them the child’s ‘seizures’ stopped and he was able to return to a less stressful school life. Having touched upon the topic of seizures the case then allowed us to explore the varied nomenclature of seizures and the proposed stigma behind the label ‘pseudo-seizure.’

Case three – highlighted the importance of family trees in both paediatrics and psychiatry.  A lot of medical problems can be traced back directly, or indirectly, to other family health issues.  This strategy of showing natural linkage can help children to engage in and understand more the ‘why me?’ aspect of coping with a medical condition at a young age.  This case described a 15 year old girl with type 1 diabetes.  Her mother and sister, unusually, also had the condition and managed to keep their blood sugars under good control.  The 15 year old however had poor control with medically unexplained hypoglycaemic attacks and seizures.  Finding additional used insulin on the girl’s person prompted some handover from paediatrics to psychiatry.  Was this girl purposefully injecting insulin as an attempt at weight control, self-harm or attention seeking?  Although paediatricians are essential to ensure good management of this chronic condition, this would be imposssible without compliance from the patient.  Psychiatrics therefore become indispensible in investigating a patient’s coping mechanisms and attitude towards their diagnosis alongside illiciting a complete psychiatric history and management plan. Drs Conn and Bulwer discussed the difficulties of helping this girl who denied inflicting any problems on herself and the possibility or dissociative amnesia or genuine lack of awareness of her actions.  The case also highlighted the importance of family meetings and rapid response to potentially life-threatening scenarios.

Case four – raised some questions about handover into adult services.  In Australia, there are specialist psychiatrists for the age range 16-25 due to the complex and clear psychological challenges and changes at this time.  Potentially a very influential sub-specialty as 1 in 4 adolescents will attempt self-harm of some sort and, at this age, suicide, particularly male, is the commonest cause of death.  We discussed a 20 year old gentleman with an expansive pituitary tumour.  He was treated with Cabergoline, a commonly used dopamine agonist in Parkinson’s disease.  This massively reduced his production of prolactin and along with hormone treatment the boy completed puberty and reached his full height potential.  Physically, the endocrinologists were very pleased with this treatment response and, with the tumour location and spread, felt that surgery or radiotherapy were not desirable management options.  The paediatricians faced a new challenge when the boy experienced extreme, unanticipated side effects of the Cabergoline and decided to ask the psychiatrists for help.  The boy was experiencing what he perceived to be undesirable and uncharacteristic sexual impulses.  It is well-documented that some Parkinson’s patients can become impulsive with treatment for example beginning to gamble and shop excessively.  The boy was becoming distressed by his ‘need’ to masturbate, impulse to watch porn and potential attraction to males around him.  In this case, as the medication had to be continued, psychological input was essential to ensure that this highly functioning university student could keep the impulses under control so as not to jeopardize his social life, education or even future employment.  A hard balance to make but a nice example of multi-disciplinary teams weighing up the cost and benefit of a particular treatment ensuring the psychological impact is minimised.

With anonymous questions literally pulled from a hat between case studies we were able to facilitate discussion of taboo and difficult topics students may not have wished to have shouted out themselves.  These included how to pursue an interest in Psychiatry when faced by the stigma against the specialty from other professionals and even parents, which specialty creates the best dinner party stories and the variation in on-call rotas and responsibilities (don’t chose paediatrics if you want to sleep at weekends!).  Audience participation was relaxed and general atmosphere one of enthusiasm and enjoyment.  As psychsoc and paedsoc presidents we were thrilled to see so much interest in the two specialities and honoured to have such a generous and honest perspective from a couple of highly-experienced professionals.


To more events!

Signing off,

Elspeth and Rosie

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