C&I Consultant Psychiatrist praised by local women’s charity

C&I Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Philippa Greenfield, has been praised by a local women’s charity for the outstanding contribution she has made to the lives of women and children in Camden and Islington.
 
Dr Greenfield is one of ten women to be recognised by Women’s Solace Aid who announced their list of ‘inspirational women’ as part of the International Women’s Day celebrations on Monday 8 March.
 
In a statement, the charity said: “In the Islington Solace Advocacy and support Service (SASS), we have worked tirelessly to support women. And we have not worked alone. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding contribution ten women have made to the lives of women and children in our borough.”
 
As well as her consultant psychiatrist role, Dr Greenfield is one of the founders of C&I’s Women’s Network and medical lead for the AR-DSA network. She is an Islington Ambassador for Domestic Abuse and an executive member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Women and Mental Health Special Interest Group, and has been heavily involved in the 25 Women Project.
 
Dr Greenfield said: “I’m really proud to have my work acknowledged in such a way by Women’s Solace Aid. We know that people who access mental health services may experience high levels of domestic violence and abuse. How we think about, understand and respond to this is central to our day-to-day practice in mental health services. 
 
“The charity carries out amazing work to support women in our local community, so it is a great honour to be recognised by them.”
 
To read more about this recognition and to hear the stories of other women recognised by the charity, please click here.
 
Please read Women’s Solace Aid’s interview with Dr Philippa Greenfield below.
 
What do you love about your role?
 There is so much that I value about my role. As a doctor, and particularly a psychiatrist, I am privileged to get such a unique insight into people’s lives and experiences through the trust and confidence that my patients afford me. I am constantly struck by the strength, humility and spirit of those that I work with. This is despite their encountering some of the most challenging illnesses in addition to the adversity they may have faced in their lives and also as a result of their illness and pathways to seeking care.
 
I work primarily with people with on-going needs related to severe and enduring mental health problems. I work with individuals and their families who can be going through what can be confusing, at times frightening, and isolating experiences. Due to the nature of the illnesses, this can be an area where an individual I am working with may not share the same understanding of their difficulties and support needs as ‘professionals’ and those close to them have. So, this is not the sort of medical work that is full of ‘thanks and flowers’. As a psychiatrist, I can hope to share knowledge and tools, offer support, compassion, advocacy and optimism. But for each individual, the challenges and solutions will be unique and the reward for me comes from seeing someone finding their own way through and seeing the warmth, lightness or brightness in them re-emerge.
 
What does empowerment look like to you?
 For me, on an individual level, empowerment is about having the freedom and control over your own choices and the confidence to trust in those choices. This confidence is more about inner esteem and self-worth, so it is not about needing loudness or certainty, but believing in yourself and allowing yourself compassion.
 
In the wider sense, empowerment is about how we support and promote those who may be ‘less heard’. How we validate and encourage strength in their own choices, values and ways of doing. In the words of the late Toni Morrison “freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another”.
 
Who inspires you?
 In terms of career, I am always inspired by individuals who have carved their own path within their field, such as the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Helena Kennedy, Roxanne Gay. People that bring their authentic self and are not afraid to say something different. Surely this is what allows growth and development in professions and in society. We still have significant issues with equality and diversity within my own profession, medicine; we need to spark interest, inspire, and actively encourage and support those with a diverse experience and voice, into the profession. The reality is that we are often inspired and learn the most from people we work with day-to-day (for me, very much including those who use my service).
 
So, examples of women who have inspired me and continue to do so are my colleagues, Shirley McNicholas, who is the Women’s Lead in Camden and Islington NHS Trust and founder of Drayton Park Women’s crisis house in Islington. Shirley has championed women’s mental health for over 25 years, and it is often under recognised how much of her work now underpins national standards and aspirations in women’s mental health.
 
In addition, whilst Helene Riordan Bond OBE, has held key roles in government, in her local borough of Camden she set up and continues to chair Camden Women’s Forum with the aim of improving the lives and outcomes for local women and girls. She sets a real example of collaborative leadership, in the meetings she chairs, all voices, most importantly of those with lived experiences, are heard equally. I can only aspire to reflect their examples in my own work.
 

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