lightbulb inside drawn out thought-bubble

The Institute of Mental Health and the Royal College of Psychiatrists are pleased to announce this year’s winners of the Duncan Macmillan essay writing competition. The competition asked psychiatry trainees to share their ideas on “The next big thing in psychiatry”.

Andrew Shepherd (University of Manchester) won first prize for his essay “Recognising the importance of group and social dynamics in recovery focussed practices”. The essay argued that by recognising mental health recovery as a social or group process, rather than an individual one, this has implications for the way in which mental health research, care and support are delivered.

Dr Karyn Ayre (Kings College London/ South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust) was awarded second prize for her essay “The future of psychiatry research” which argued for new digital methodologies to be used in psychiatry research in order to improve the links between research data and the lived experience of people with mental health problems.

Director of the Institute of Mental Health, Professor Martin Orrell congratulated this year’s winners:

“This year’s competition has yet again seen a high standard of entries from psychiatry trainees from across the country. It’s fantastic to read their entries and get an insight into what our up and coming trainees have identified as the “next big thing in psychiatry”. 

“Andrew’s essay highlighted the need to develop the delivery of mental health services to reflect new recovery practices – an area I’m particularly proud that the Institute continues to expand through pioneering research studies. “Karyn’s essay recognised that there are often limitations in research data, but solutions could be found developing new research practices with existing database technology. 

“Congratulations to both our winners and to everyone who submitted a competition entry, and my thanks to the Royal College of Psychiatrists for supporting this year’s competition.”

The Duncan Macmillan essay prize competition is held annually by the Institute of Mental Health, and was held in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists this year. Dr James Stone (Clinical Senior Lecturer, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, KCL) commented on this year's high standard of entry:

“The quality of submissions for the competition this year was very high, making choosing an overall winner a very difficult decision. Andrew and Karyn both chose engaging topics that were well presented and argued. I, on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Academic Faculty Executive Committee, would like to take this opportunity to congratulate both winners, and to thank all the other entrants for taking part.”

The purpose of the Duncan Macmillan prize is to inspire the eminent psychiatry trainees nationwide. The competition is named after Nottingham-based psychiatrist Duncan Macmillan, who helped pioneer a community-centred approach to mental health in the 1950's and 1960’s.


(Dr Ayre is funded by a National Institute of Health Research Doctoral Research Fellowship. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.)