As only a minority of medical students become psychiatrists for many there is a question as to why this speciality is important. Interestingly the same can be said of most specialities students are exposed to but the same question is rarely raised in relation to them yet psychiatric symptoms are common. Around 260 per 1000 people per year suffer from psychiatric symptoms and around 23% of patients presenting to GPs have psychiatric symptoms. Additionally up to 38% of patients in general medical out-patient clinics have psychiatric disorders and no discernible physical illness.

With this in mind it is clear why all doctors need some psychiatric skills. The trauma surgeon will see patients who not only have traumatic physical injuries but are likely to be suffering from the psychiatric complications ot trauma, the oncologist will have to deal with grief, loss and fear in his patients and of course all doctors dealing with patients with chronic illness will encounter issues of depression and anxiety.

This section has three main components; one is an overview of psychiatry another on history and mental state examination and finally one on theĀ relevance of culture. There is one other page that links to a glossary of psychiatric terms.