Top award for Derry mental health expert

Professor Robert McClelland receives his Royal College of Psychiatrists Lifetime Achievement Award from Professor Femi Oyebode.
Professor Robert McClelland receives his Royal College of Psychiatrists Lifetime Achievement Award from Professor Femi Oyebode.

A prominent Derry-born mental health expert has received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Professor Robert (Roy) McClelland OBE received the prestigious honour at the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) annual awards ceremony in London recently.

As Professor of Mental Health at Queen’s University’s School of Medicine, he was responsible for Northern Ireland’s undergraduate teaching in psychiatry and was heavily involved in postgraduate psychiatry training.

A consultant psychiatrist at Belfast City Hospital, he co-chaired the Bamford Review which has helped modernise mental health services in NI by overhauling policy and service delivery.

After the Good Friday Agreement, he was involved in the development of two major civil society ventures. He chaired the ‘Healing and Remembering Initiative’, addressing the legacy of individual and communal trauma.

Mr McClelland was also a trustee of the NI Centre for Trauma and Transformation which provided psychotherapy for the victims of the IRA bombing in Omagh in 1998.

A champion of patient confidentiality, Professor McClelland chairs Northern Ireland’s Privacy Advisory Committee and, nationally, was chair of the College of Psychiatrists’ Confidentiality Advisory Group. He was also a member of the General Medical Council task group involved in updating its guidance to UK doctors.

Internationally, he was responsible for the development of European Standards in Confidentiality for which he was awarded the Geneva Prize for Human Rights in Psychiatry.

Professor McClelland said he was honoured to receive such a prestigious award from his peers at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

“I have had a very privileged career, during which time I have met, and worked with many wonderful people,” he said. “It has been a very fulfilling and rewarding journey. I would like to thank the Royal College for this award, I count it a great honour to receive such a prestigious accolade from my colleagues.”

Writing in the awards programme, Lord John Alderdice said: “Many colleagues have been singularly devoted to caring for their patients, some have been distinguished academics and a few have combined these challenges with great distinction. With his thoughtful, liberal approach, Roy McClelland also reconciled the differing approaches within psychiatry and, in two decades as the academic leader of psychiatry in NI, applied a broad humanity to the psychological sequelae of violence for individuals, and for a divided society recovering from terrorism.”

Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The RCPsych Awards are all about recognising and rewarding contributions to the mental health sector, but the Lifetime Achievement Award is a cut above the rest.

“I am so pleased we’re able to publicly honour Professor McClelland for improving the lives of people living with mental illness in NI.”