Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Since my last letter to you the conference season has taken off in a big way. I was fortunate enough to attend the Annual National Conference of Indian Psychiatric Society in Hyderabad. This brought over 3000 colleagues together for a rich scientific programme. Subsequently I taught residents in Bangalore and was invited to give Pandit memorial Oration at the School of Law in Pune, India. This fitted in well with the WPA campaign on Social Justice for the mentally ill under the broad rubric of public mental health as approved by the General assembly in Madrid. The aim is to highlight social discrepancies in outcomes and social discrimination against those with mental illness.
Another exciting development has been the establishment of the WPA-Lancet Commission on Psychiatry which will constitute qualitative assessment initially and the zonal representatives will be requested to participate in this piece of work which will be followed by a quantitative survey which will look at the practice of psychiatry. We are in the process of developing minimum standards of clinical practice and you are invited to send information on these if your organisation already has that available.
The World Congress of Asian Psychiatry was held recently in Fukoaka, Japan in association with the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology with focus on Asian psychiatry and was attended by over 450 delegates. It was preceded by a successful leadership course for Japanese Young Psychiatrists by Professor Norman Sartorius.
In the recent weeks I have had meetings with the shadow UK Minister for mental health and social care and various members of the House of Lords to push the mental health agenda forward. A recent advance on the impact of cognitive behaviour therapy on common mental disorders has proved to be successful in getting individuals back to employment. Please do let me know if you need any further information.
As mentioned earlier, preparations are underway for the International conference of the WPA in Bucharest in June which I am sure will be a great success and we plan to launch our social justice campaign there. In association with the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology we will have a regional meeting in Osaka in June. I very much hope that you will be able to join us along with your trainees and residents as well as medical students and early career psychiatrists to share ideas and lessons for policy development as well as research and clinical practice.
I remain keen to hear from our members and societies about what the added value of the WPA is for the national organisations. I am delighted that Dr. Mukesh Haikerwal from Australia (past chair of the council of the World Medical Association) and Professor Paul Summergrad (President of the American Psychiatric Association) from the USA have agreed to look at the role of the WPA and whether it is ‘fit for purpose’ in the first half of the 21st century. No doubt they will be contacting you and your members to seek your opinions and advice.
You may recall that a few weeks ago I sent you a draft letter and requested that you use that to contact your health ministers to push for the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals and if you have already done so please do let me know. However if you have not been able to do so far, please do. Could you please let me know if you have already done so.
Meanwhile please feel free to contact me directly or through the Secretariat.
Dinesh Bhugra CBE MA.MSc,MBBS,FRCP,FRCPE,FRCPsych,FFPH,MPhil,PhD
President, World Psychiatric Association