SEPSIG Autumn 2018 Meeting
21st September 2018
The Autumn 2018 meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Sport and Exercise Psychiatry Special Interest Group (SEPSIG) was held at the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH) in central London. The meeting was a great success. SEPSIG are grateful for the support of ISEH in providing a tremendous venue for the event and also owe a huge debt of thanks to Tony Adams who headlined and opened the conference.
Tony is a former England and Arsenal captain. He had a well-publicised battle with alcohol addiction. During recovery, he founded Sporting Chance to provide treatment and support for athletes with addictions. He is also now patron of the Forward Trust providing treatment to break the cycle of substance misuse and crime.
Tony gave an eloquent and emotional presentation on his own personal journey with addictions. It was especially enlightening to hear him describe how he developed emotional literacy during therapy. He also spoken openly about the low self-esteem which fuelled many of his more dysfunctional habits in his earlier years.
Tony was followed by Pamela Walters. She is a leading forensic and addictions psychiatrist as well as Clinical Director for the Forward Trust. She presented an overview of addictions within sport before focussing on gambling which is a particular problem at present within sport. She presented some neurobiological findings as well as an erudite discussion on the place of gambling within current diagnostic and classificatory systems.
After coffee, Alan Currie gave an overview of the psychiatric contribution that might be helpful in understanding the use of performance enhancing drugs in elite sport.
Alan was followed by Carolyn Plateau who is a leading psychologist at Loughborough University. She has done great work on understanding compulsive exercise, and in particular, its relation to eating disorders in sport.
After an excellent lunch and much discussion, there followed an afternoon session on exercise and mental health. The first speaker was Paul Gorczynski who is an international authority on exercise lifestyle and psychosis having worked extensively in the UK, Canada, and Australia. His talk focussed particularly on environmental factors that contribute to obesity in serious mental illness and how these might be modified.
Flo Kinnafick from Loughborough University followed this by describing her own valuation of the Get Set to Go programme developed by Mind in order to support people with mental health problems to benefit from physical activity.
After another short break, Gary Woods from Queens University in Belfast presented his appraisal of the evidence base for drug treatments in athletes with mental health problems. The evidence is relatively sparse and relies a great deal on expert opinion and extrapolation of the evidence base from non-sporting populations. His presentation led on to a group discussion on prescribing habits within the sport and exercise psychiatry community.