UCLan medical student wins Royal College of Psychiatrist prize

18 April 2024

Fourth year University of Central Lancashire medical student Projit Kar has won an inaugural Royal College of Psychiatrist prize for his essay on the theme of LGBTQ+ mental health and the role of the psychiatrist in reducing stigma.

The executive committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Rainbow Special Interest Group launched the essay prize in 2023 in memory of Professor Michael King who was a prolific researcher who contributed greatly to understanding the inequalities faced by LGBTQ+ people. He co-founded the College’s Gay and Lesbian Mental Health Group in 2001.

In the history of psychiatry, LGBTQ+ identities have been stigmatised through the lens of disorders. Essay entrants were challenged to discuss the role of the psychiatrist in reducing stigma.

Projit concluded that psychiatrists are uniquely positioned to appreciate the individuality of each patient and provide personalised compassionate, culturally sensitive, and clinically competent care based on available evidence while healing the proverbial scars stigmatisation has cast on this diverse community.

From Brisbane in Australia, where he attended Brisbane Grammar School for his secondary education, Projit has a long-standing ambition to offer voluntary care in Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Northern Queensland and Melanesia. During his upbringing in the region, Projit witnessed a stark disparity in the accessibility of mental and general healthcare services for these communities compared to the advanced healthcare systems of neighbouring populations.

“Tragically cultural stigmatisation against mental health conditions and the LGBTQ+ Community remains commonplace in the region, and I hope, in a prospective career in psychiatry, to raise awareness and develop strategies to improve social attitudes, resulting in better health outcomes for all,” said Projit.

Projit will now have his essay published on the Special Interest Group’s webpage and will be invited to present his findings (as an oral presentation) at a national Rainbow webinar.

Projit added: “I was initially quite surprised to learn that I had been awarded the prize due to the extremely high standard of submissions for essay prizes within the Royal College. I feel privileged and fortunate that my written work has been considered and may have a positive contribution to reduce stigmatisation for not only the LGBTQ+ community but for all individuals.”

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