The Royal College of Psychiatrists is the main professional organisation of psychiatrists in the United Kingdom, and is responsible for representing psychiatrists, for psychiatric research and for providing public information about mental health problems. The college provides advice to those responsible for training and certifying psychiatrists in the UK.
In addition to publishing many books and producing several journals, the College produces, for the public, information about mental health problems. Its offices are located at 21 Prescot Street in London, near Aldgate. The College was formerly located in Belgrave Square.
The College has existed in various forms since 1841, having started life as the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums and Hospitals for the Insane. In 1865 it became the Medico-Psychological Association. In 1926, the Association received its Royal Charter, becoming the Royal Medico-Psychological Association. Finally, in 1971, a Supplemental Charter accorded the Association the status of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
The coat of arms incorporates the traditional serpent-entwined rod of Asclepius symbolic of medicine, and butterflies associated with Psyche. Previous to the grant of these arms, the Medico-Psychological Association had used a device showing the seated Psyche with butterfly’s wings. The arms were originally granted to the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in 1926, and were confirmed to the College on its formation in 1971 by the College of Arms. They were also registered in Scotland by the Court of the Lord Lyon.
The work of the College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) has developed a role for clinicians and their professional bodies in raising standards. Its national initiatives engage directly with clinicians, managers and service users and support them to take responsibility for improving local mental health services. More than 90% of mental health services in the UK participate in the work of the CCQI.
The Policy Unit, part of the Strategic Communications Department, is responsible for the development and delivery of College policy to the membership and a range of external audiences.