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Professor Mark Freestone attends the annual British and Irish Group for the Study of Personality Disorder (BIGSPD) conference in Belfast.


Professor Mark Freestone visit to BIGSPD conference in Belfast

Last week, Professor Mark Freestone, Chief Education and Training Officer and Dean of Postgraduate Studies at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust attended the annual British and Irish Group for the Study of Personality Disorder (BIGSPD) conference in Belfast.

BIGSPD brought together professionals from various disciplines to discuss advancements and challenges in understanding and treating personality disorders. Since its inception in 1999, BIGSPD has grown from a small, niche gathering into a diverse and influential community, now celebrating its 25th anniversary

During the conference, Professor Freestone was invited by the BIGSPD Executive to be interviewed by the Mental Elf as part of the anniversary celebrations. He highlighted this evolution, noting how BIGSPD’s transformation mirrors broader changes in the field. He emphasized the shift from the so-called “cottage industry” approach, characterized by isolated efforts mainly by psychiatry, to a more integrated and inclusive community that embraces diverse perspectives and innovative research.

Professor Freestone also discussed the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and the inclusion of lived experiences from those with personality disorders in shaping research and treatment approaches. He emphasised the need for continued evolution in practices and policies, to better address the complexities of personality disorders.

Looking to the future of the conference, Professor Freestone outlined the potential for greater engagement with forensics and quantitative science. He said they are both incredibly powerful, given our increasing access and use of machine learning and generative Ai which have transformative potential for mental health services.

Overall, the conference showcased BIGSPD’s commitment to fostering a collaborative and progressive environment for advancing the understanding and treatment of personality disorders, with leaders like Professor Freestone at the forefront of these advancements.

For those interested in learning more, the full interview with Professor Freestone can be viewed on YouTube: