Spike goes to Belfast – QUB win annual Spike Milligan Public Speaking Competition
After a fantastic night in the Sugar Club in Dublin, Swati Vara and Catherine Eves, medical students from Queen’s University Belfast took home the top prize at the Annual Spike Milligan Public Speaking Competition hosted by the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPsychI). They faced tough competition from RCSI whose focus on mental health issues as a consequence of lower socio-economic standing earned them the Runners-Up prize.
It was a brilliant evening – entertaining and enlightening. It was wonderful to meet and learn from other medical students and there was plenty of laughter involved! – Catherine Eves, QUB participant and winner
This Public Speaking Competition was first held in 1999 as part of the Changing Minds Campaign of the College, addressing the stigma associated with mental health problems. Spike Milligan generously lent his name to the competition. It honours his great work as an advocate for those affected by mental ill health.
Teams of two from UL, NUIG, TCD, RCSI & QUB spoke on the topic of:
“All Changed, Changed utterly” (Yeats, Easter 1916): 1916-2016 Mental Illness and Recovery – All the Children of the Nation Treated Equally Now?
Teams highlighted various issues which contribute to mental illness and affect recovery such as stigma, traveller rights, unemployment, and social codes of masculinity.
Mental health services may not be equal but if we compare this to a 100 years ago, we have progressed a lot as a nation in terms of stigma and the concept of recovery itself! – Swati Vara, QUB Participant and winner
Feminism is just as much about men as it is women. It extends to being a cultural force that removes harmful gender stereotypes. One of these toxic social codes is of masculinity, the pervasive perception that men are weak if they seek help or have mental health issues – Rachael Wu, UL Participant
This year the judging panel consisted of CPsychI REFOCUS (Recovery Experience Forum of Carers and Users of Services) members Dr Marina Bowe consultant psychiatrist and Mr Rick Rossiter, as well as Trainee Psychiatrist and recent winner of the John Dunne Medal for psychiatric research Dr Cornelia Carey.
CPsychI Director of Communications and Public Education Dr John Hillery said “The Spike Milligan participants continue to provoke and amaze and this year’s competitors raised the bar again in content and presentation. Mental illness has been stigmatised in medical schools too. The presentations suggest that modern medical students can see beyond the stigma and that gives me great hope for the future.”
Students praised the event for its unique approach to de-stigmatising mental illness.
A fantastic evening that broadened my perspective on the different ways people from all walks of life are affected by mental illness in this country. Each speech presented a unique outlook and gave me a lot to reflect on, particularly with a view to studying psychiatry in the future – Oisin Brady Bates, NUIG participant.
The Stand out thing for me was the fantastic range of ways in which the different colleges approached the topic, from the theatrical to the traditional. And it was a wonderful thing to have been involved in – Lia McCann, TCD participant
The aim of the competition is to foster and promote communication skills among doctors in training; with a focus on mental health. It is also an opportunity for public outreach and engagement on matters concerning mental health issues. Teams are encouraged to demonstrate clear, reflective communication skills in a way that will inspire and inform a public audience. The award is named in recognition of the late Spike Milligan’s work in de-stigmatising mental illness through his books and appearances.