On the 9th and 10th May 2024, Maudsley Learning ran its first-ever mental health simulation conference. This inaugural event offered a collaborative environment where participants could engage in mutual learning and inspiration, connect with like-minded peers, and exchange thoughts on mental health simulation training. The conference, welcomed over 100 mental health professionals, educationalists and clinicians from around the world. The conference featured an online format on the first day and a face-to-face session on the second day at the prestigious ORTUS Conferencing and Events Venue in Camberwell, London.

The conference included a mix of presentations, workshops, keynote speakers, and panels. There was a diverse range of presentations with a strong focus on the future of Simulation-Based Education (SBE), covering topics from the development and integration of VR to a presentation from simulation actors, allowing participants to see the process from their perspective. The workshops were interactive and enabled participants to focus on their areas of interest.

Our three keynote speakers were incredibly passionate, engaging, and demonstrated a profound expertise in their respective topics. Colette Laws-Chapman, Lead Nurse for Non-Medical Simulation Programmes and President of ASPiH, delivered a compelling presentation on the future of mental health simulation training and the ASPiH standards. These standards emphasize that anyone involved in designing, delivering, evaluating, and translating simulated practice must adhere to ASPiH's core values, which include safety, equity, diversity, inclusion, sustainability, and excellence. Colette also emphasized the importance of achieving these values and ensuring sustainability in terms of faculty and the environment.

Professor Claire Henderson, Clinical Professor of Public Mental Health at KCL started day two with keynote: Advance choice documents (ACD) and simulation. Claire emphasised the history of ACD and how it can be used to address inequalities for Black African and Caribbean people, by improving access, experience and outcomes within mental health services. The importance of co-production and the positives this brings to SBE was highlighted. She also outlined future plans for ACD use within SLaM trust and the associated simulation training.

Our last keynote was from David Stedman, founder of Active Image Roleplay. David discussed the contribution of actors to SBE and the various ways actors can be utilised for both low-fidelity and high-fidelity simulation. He also emphasised the importance of the actors being part of the team and how faculty can support actors both in the preparation and during simulations. Additionally, how the actors training helps them to manage the high emotional load of embodying a simulated patient. This keynote involved a practical demonstration of the significant impact that actors can bring to SBE.

The conference concluded with a Panel discussion titled, “The state of the art: where are we now with mental health simulation?” Panellists and participants explored where and how we could make improvements in SBE in the future, as well as the pros and cons of using VR and AI in simulation.

The conference was an incredibly engaging and insightful experience that truly celebrated all aspects of mental health simulation. We are thrilled to consider it a massive success. It provided an exceptional forum to explore the dynamic landscape of mental health simulation and its profound impact on healthcare professionals' skills, confidence, and knowledge. Moreover, it offered valuable opportunities to network including the sharing of information and good practice with other attendees. We received fantastic feedback and identified some crucial learning points including the appetite for future conferences, mental health simulation networks and special interest groups.

Preparations for next year's conference are already underway. We hope to bring together an equally diverse and passionate community of mental health simulation enthusiasts.