Dr Alan Kellas MBBS BA MRCPsych
I trained in medicine at Oxford and qualified in 1981 from the London Hospital, working in General Practice, in NHS, holistic and self-help settings, (eg at the Bristol Cancer Help centre), before training further in old age medicine and then psychiatry in the late 80s.
After a year as lecturer at Bristol Uni Dept of Psychiatry I have been, since 1998, a community NHS Consultant Psychiatrist in community teams in BANES, then North Bristol, and later South Gloucester and North Somerset as well as Wales and around the South West,: this has been mainly supporting adults and children with learning disabilities. Some of this time was as inpatient (locked rehab) consultant, in generic child and adolescent mental health, and community rehab in general mental health services. Before I retired from fulltime practice I was Trust Medical lead for learning disability services (Avon and Wiltshire Partnership).
I am now employed by Scottish Autism offering remote Covid related support for people with ASD and provide specialist assessments and reports to commissioners on complex, usually out of area, placement dilemmas.
I am a member of the sustainability committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, nationally, as Green care and Nature Matters rep. https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/improving-care/working-sustainably/nature-matters. I helped set up the Green CAMHS faculty group and was an active part of the core advisory team developing the College response to the Climate and Nature crisis, whose position statement was released in May 2021.
I have experience as expert advisor to DEFRA-funded projects like the Nature Friendly Schools project led by the Wildlife Trusts, evaluating pilot Nature-based intervention projects Expressions of Interests: these and the RCPsych Nature Matters work has involved collaborations with national academics in the field of nature connectedness and evidence for nature health links. I have worked closely with the RCPsych social prescribing lead. I also helped develop the training on green care with the Centre for Sustainable health in Oxford, hosts to NHS forest and sponsors of the Green walking guide. I am an expert advisor to the Defence Garden Scheme, a national horticulture therapy programme for Veterans.
Locally I have volunteered since 2014 to develop and establish the Health and Nature work of the West of England Nature Partnership, linking nature partners with health and care services: attracting and coordinating the first Dose of Nature pilot in 2015, designing some Health City plenaries for WENP, participating in the WENP steering group and the Nature health practitioner forum, and contributing to a successful bid to run a pilot Green social prescribing project, one of seven sites chosen by DEFRA/NHSE. I helped write the WENP Blue health guide to water based provisions for health around Bristol, and have taught in and facilitated academic sessions on Nature and Health for GPs, psychiatrists, medical students, community practitioners, and the public, including local radio. At present I cofacilitate local monthly groups for GPs, Social workers and Occupational Therapists and positive behavioural specialists on nature based practice.
I am Chair of Members of a local Special School Academy Trust.
I have trained in family therapy (Bristol Uni) and Dance Movement Therapy (Dance Voice) and when a lecturer in the academic department of Psychiatry at Bristol Uni did a diploma in Action Research in Professional Practice (Bath Uni), which informs my approach to participatory enquiry (research with rather than on people) partly inspired by Norah Fry Research centre. I ran an Action research course for carers and practitioners for two years which led to setting up the Avon Learning disabilities Education and research network (ALDERN) in 2001.
I completed a year’s training with SHIFT Bristol in Permaculture in 2014 and have done a range of trainings in Nature based approaches particularly wilderness questing as developed by tutors at the School of Lost Borders in California. I have practised and taught meditation all my adult life, over the last eight years in a regular seasonal pause community group in beautiful local woodlands; I love graphic facilitation methods and have co-created maps dances and performances to help a wide range of people find their voice and take their next steps in these uncertain and complex times.
I offer advice and consultancy to individuals projects practitioners and teams who want to promote and embed nature in their practice, particularly in mental health and care services. If I am not the right person I will not hesitate to recommend other associates better suited.
An initial one-off conversation or facilitated talk can, if wanted, lead to regular mentoring or groups or networks: for this I draw heavily on action research methods like reflective practice, collaborative and large group participatory enquiry, as a way of “improving practice for me, for us, and for them”. By listening carefully to peoples’ experience and interests and appreciating their unique sense of place in life I aim to inform enrich and energise their personal and professional care skills: this inspires me to keep wondering at the incredible nature and human connections we all share.