Symposia 11-15

Symposia at Royal College of Psychiatrists Meetings 2011 -2015


Brighton 2011

Sport, social inclusion and recovery by Helen Killaspy.

Eating Disorders in sport by Alan Currie.

Depression and athletes by Valentin Merkser


2013 Edinburgh (1)

Psychiatric morbidity in sport – Bob Factor provided an extensive review of the epidemiology of mental illness in sports participants with discussion of the more common psychiatric illnesses in this population.

Meeting the mental health needs of elite performers – Steve Peters described the many challenges to providing adequate mental health care for elite sportsmen and women. The unusual lifestyles of this group not only make access to treatment difficult but can in themselves contribute to psychiatric morbidity.

Olympics 2012 – Philip Hopley is lead Sport Psychiatrist at LPP Consulting and shared his experience of planning the provision and co-ordinating his team for the 10,000 plus athletes competing at the Games.


2013 Edinburgh (2)

Psychiatric aspects of doping – Alan Currie reviewed the complex interactions between the athlete’s mental state and an unusual psychological environment can lead an athlete to dope. Providing appropriate psychiatric treatment not only supports a return to psychological health but also can contribute to a cleaner sport.

Addictions in sport – Problems with alcohol, substance misuse and other addictions are found in many sports. The individual and contextual factors that contribute to this were reviewed along with a discussion of how vulnerable groups can be supported to access treatment.

Psychopharmacology in Athletes – There are a number of under-explored considerations when prescribing for athletes including tolerability, exercise related physiological changes and, in the case of elite performers, the need to seek ‘therapeutic use exemptions’. Leading psychopharmacologist Dr Hamish McAllister-Williams Psychiatric provided some helpful practical guidance in these areas.


2014 London 2014

Exercise Addiction – Caroline Meyer described how optimum physical exercise supports mental and physical well-being but a minority of those who exercise do so compulsively and occasionally as a symptom of another psychiatric condition (e.g. an eating disorder). The clinical features of a behavioural addiction to exercise were discussed along with the psychological, and neuro-biological correlates. Comparisons were drawn between this and other addictions.

Addiction in sport – Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones defined the addictions, their clinical features and the clinical approaches and services that have been developed to help sportsmen and women with addictions. The use of sport as an intervention in addictions was also be discussed.

When athletes retire – problems leaving the sporting arena – Dr David McDuff told us how a professional sporting career is usually brief and intense and frequently ends abruptly (e.g. through injury) and with little preparation for life afterwards. This is fertile ground for subsequent problems with adjustment and even frank psychiatric morbidity.


2015 Birmingham

Building winning teams – Sport and Psychiatry by Allan Johnston who opened by reflecting that many successful sports teams have attributes that are generalisable to other settings including business and commerce. There exists a healthy cross-fertilisation of ideas between these two fields. Healthcare teams and especially mental health teams could also learn valuable lessons from the world of sport.

Conversely whilst the sports world is used to drawing on the expertise of a range of medical and paramedical professionals there is less clarity on the potential role of the Psychiatrist. What contribution can s/he make to the mental health, wellbeing and performance of the athlete or sports team? Importantly, how do we persuade the world of sport of the value of our professional contribution?

Stigma and mental health – collaborations with sport by Malcolm Rae. There is large demographic group (young adult males) that does not readily access mental health care when needed. However with increasing recognition of conspicuous psychiatric morbidity in sportsmen and women sport becomes a potentially powerful means of educating and reaching out to those who need help and support. By this means several highly innovative projects around the UK have developed to provide information, tackle stigma, improve access, care and treatment for a vulnerable group.

Learning the language of sport – how sports medicine sees eating disorders by Alan Currie. A plethora of terms have emerged in recent years to describe the grey areas on the fringes of clinical eating disorders. Within sport these terms include ‘anorexia athletica’, ‘the female athlete triad’ and since 2013 ‘relative energy deficiency in sport’ (RED-S for short). Whilst these terms have common usage in sports medicine they are not always well understood in the psychiatric world. A successful approach to eating disorder morbidity in sport demands that the worlds of sport and psychiatry understand each other and are able to collaborate.

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