From Frasier to Dexter, there’re lots of TV shows and films over the years which have aimed to mimic the work of a psychiatrist.

Entertaining yes, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to working as one.  

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist for over 25 years now, based in the south west of Wales, I can tell you is that it’s a worthwhile and rewarding career.

I’ve known some children since they’ve been five or six and it’s a great experience to be able to see them progress through the challenges of childhood into adults – and help them get better.

The National Wales: Dr Dave Williams Dr Dave Williams

Sometimes these children, go into adulthood without requiring further support.

And when this happens, it makes you feel like you’ve made a real difference to someone’s life.

It’s an interesting job, one which requires you to be open-minded. You certainly can’t make assumptions about people.

A day in the life might see me visit a school to help a seven-year-old with symptoms of depression and ADHD. In the afternoon I could be speaking to a 14-year-old boy with an eating disorder.

One thing is for sure – no two days are the same. It’s fantastic to see your patients get the treatment they need. They do get better.

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In a team of mental health professionals, we regularly work with teachers, social services and other mental health professionals to help children in crisis.

It’s a great speciality but is often undersubscribed in comparison to some, we have a large crossover with paediatrics.

Psychiatry allows you to be the person you were when you first started at medical school – caring and compassionate.

That’s why I’m working with the Royal College of Psychiatrists on their 'Choose Psychiatry' campaign this year.

The recruitment drive aims to highlight the profession to trainee doctors.

And why you may ask? Well, we currently don’t have enough psychiatrists to help keep up with demand.

Although we now have a very successful fill rate for psychiatry training jobs in Wales, all areas struggle to fill all the posts they need.

To put it bluntly, the worldwide pandemic hasn’t helped our profession either. Now more than ever, people need us.

And it’s no surprise. Job losses, isolation, lockdown, bereavement, furlough, all these things have led to more people experiencing poor mental health.

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From the north to the south, across Wales we’ve seen an increase in demand for mental health services.

That’s why we want to highlight psychiatry as a great specialism to trainee doctors or those who may be thinking about a career in medicine.

This Sunday marks World Mental Health Day, which gives us another reason to promote our cause.

The theme of the day is mental health in an unequal world. Sadly, inequalities exist. They influence people’s mental health.

As psychiatrists, we’ve known for some time that inequalities such as where you come from or your race can play a huge part in your life chances and mental health. It’s part of our training.

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The Covid-19 crisis has only exacerbated inequalities and while we don’t have all the post pandemic statistics in yet, we do know we have a potential mental health emergency heading our way.

That’s why we’re campaigning for targeted resources now, to enable us, and our partners to deal with the potential huge surge in demand.

Our doctors come from all walks of life. It’s a fulfilling job which makes you learn quickly about people and the mind.

And remember, it goes without saying that it’s nothing like the psychiatrists you see on your TV or cinema screens.

Dr Dave Williams is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales.

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