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Deirdre McManus, psychiatrist
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a psychiatrist in London

Danielle Goldstein

…according to Dr Deirdre McManus, 41.

All psychiatrists are qualified doctors

‘What a lot of people don’t realise is that psychiatrists have to go to medical school and cover all the specialties. I did six years in medical school, trained as a junior doctor – rotating through medicine and surgery – and worked as an anaesthetist before I finally decided to do psychiatry.’

Mental health care in the UK is chronically underfunded

‘I probably moan mostly about the chronic underfunding of mental health services compared with physical health services. Mental health is up there with cardiovascular disease and cancer, yet it doesn’t receive the same degree of funding, and this impacts on my ability to carry out my job.’

London’s ethnic mix brings its own complications

‘I think the ethnic diversity in London is probably incomparable. Quite often I have to use an interpreter when I see patients, and I need to have quite a wide understanding of their cultural background or the political context in their country of origin, because that can often be a part of the experiences that trigger their mental health problems.’

Psychiatrists treat every patient the same – even criminals

‘Part of my clinical work includes prisoners with post-traumatic stress disorder. A very important part of my job is understanding why they’ve offended, and that involves going right back to their childhoods, many of which have been difficult or abusive. The role of a doctor and a psychiatrist is to be non-judgmental.’

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