Letter from the WPA President

Dear Colleagues,

At the end of the first year of my mandate as WPA President, I am providing you with a summary of the main activities implemented by the Association during the year.

WPA International Congress in Florence, Italy (April 1-4, 2009)
The Congress had more than 9,000 delegates, from 125 countries. The scientific programme included presentations by many prominent international experts, including the 10 most cited psychiatrists in the past 10 years according to the Essential Science Indicators.

World Psychiatry
World Psychiatry, the official journal of the Association, has received its first impact factor: 3.896. It is now the most widespread psychiatric journal worldwide, reaching more than 33,000 psychiatrists. To the English, Spanish and Chinese editions, we added the Russian one. A French edition will be launched shortly. Selected papers from the journal are being translated in several other languages and posted on the websites of the relevant Member Societies.

The WPA / Lancet Initiative
The WPA Zonal Representatives and Member Societies participated in a survey on the availability, feasibility and acceptability of evidence-based interventions for various mental disorders in the different regions of the world. The results will be included in a paper for the Lancet.

Production of WPA press releases
The WPA appointed a press agent who is producing press releases on topics relevant to mental health. Some of these press releases have resulted in a wide media coverage: e.g., the one concerning the Iraq Mental Health Survey published in World Psychiatry, which resulted in articles in the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times and the Washington Post; and the ones concerning some presentations delivered at the Florence Congress, which resulted in articles in the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.

The WHO - WPA Work Plan
The WPA has finalized a work plan with the World Health Organization. This plan includes several items, among which are: a) the participation of WPA Member Societies and Scientific Sections in the revision of the ICD-10 chapter on mental disorders; b) partnership on mental health care in emergencies; and c) collaboration in the WHO Mental Health Action Programme (mhGAP). A WPA-WHO Train-the-Trainers Workshop on Prevention and Management of Mental Health Consequences of Disasters and Conflicts was held at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva from 27 to 31 July, 2009. A WPA-WHO Policy Roundtable on Mental Health Care in Africa will take place in Abuja, Nigeria, on October 23, 2009, with the participation of policy makers and psychiatric leaders from African countries. The details of the participation of the WPA in the revision of the ICD-10 will be finalized in a series of meetings of the WPA President with the WHO leadership between September 28 and October 2, 2009.

The WPA Programme of Fellowships
Five calls for applications for one-year fellowships sponsored by the WPA at recognized centers of excellence in psychiatry (Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry; Institute of Psychiatry in London; University of Maryland School of Medicine; Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland; University of Melbourne) have been published on the WPA website. One fellow was already selected.

WPA-funded research projects
Three calls for submission of research projects to be funded by the WPA have been published on the WPA website. The selection of the projects has been already made (see the WPA website for details).

The WPA series of guidelines
The WPA is producing guidelines on the following issues: a) protection and promotion of mental health in children of persons with severe mental disorders; b) steps, obstacles and mistakes to avoid in the implementation of community mental health care; c) how to combat stigmatization of psychiatry and psychiatrists; d) mental health and mental health care in migrants. Four task forces have been appointed, under the leadership, respectively, of I. Brockington, G. Thornicroft, N. Sartorius and D. Bhugra. The guidelines will be ready by early 2010. They will be published in World Psychiatry, translated in several languages and posted on the WPA website.

WPA Train-the-Trainers Workshops
A WPA Train-the-Trainers Workshop on Integration of Mental Health into Primary Care was held in Ibadan, Nigeria, on January 26-30, 2009. A WPA Train-the-Trainers Workshop on Improving Psychosocial Functioning in Persons with Severe Mental Illness will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in November 2009. A WPA Train-the-Trainers Workshop on Management of Mental Health Consequences of Natural Disasters will be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in January 2010.

The WPA Programme on Depression in Persons with Physical Diseases
The WPA has started a programme aiming to raise the awareness of the prevalence and prognostic implications of depression in persons with physical diseases. Three books are being produced, dealing respectively with Depression and Diabetes (main editor: W. Katon), Depression and Cancer (main editor: D. Kissane), and Depression and Heart Disease (main editor: A. Glassman). Three corresponding sets of slides will be developed, which will be translated in several languages and posted on the WPA website.

The series of reports on exemplary experiences in the mental health field
The WPA is collecting reports on exemplary experiences in the mental health field from the various regions of the world. A first series of reports is already available on the WPA website.

The WPA Early Career Psychiatrists Council
The WPA has established its Early Career Psychiatrists Council, whose members have been appointed by Member Societies. The first teleconferences of the Council will take place in the last week of October.

The 15th World Congress of Psychiatry
We have started the preparation of the 15th World Congress of Psychiatry, which will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 18-22, 2011. The theme of the Congress will be “World Psychiatry 2011: Our Heritage and Our Future”. The Congress will provide a comprehensive overview of the achievements which have stood the test of time (“our heritage”) and of the most promising trends (“our future”) in the various areas of psychiatry, with the contribution of the international leaders in those areas. The list of the Keynote Lectures and Core Symposia of the Congress has been already finalized and will appear in the second announcement, to be distributed in January 2010.

I look forward to our continuing interaction.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time if you have suggestions or need further information.

With warmest regards,

Yours sincerely,

Mario Maj




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