December 2014
Letter from the WPA President (17 December 2014)

Dear Colleagues

I trust you are beginning to unwind in preparation for the holidays and the New Year.

I propose to provide you regular updates about various activities that I am involved in on behalf of the WPA> Since taking over in Madrid I have been involved in meeting key individuals and including Director of Mental Health at the WHO, Presidents of the World Medical Association, WONCA, International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to plan areas of mutual interest and develop themes on which WPA and other partners can work together.

The interest in mental health around the globe is increasing and more people are becoming aware of its importance as part of the overall health and it is rapidly reaching a tipping point. Politicians in many countries are talking of their own personal experiences of mental illness and of those around them and also how mental illness affects families, countries and economy.

For the first time the World Economic Forum has set up a Global Agenda Council on mental health which over the next two years will be looking at mental health in workplace. I am privileged to be a part of that and work has already started on developing information on how employers deal with the mental health of their employees. The economic impact of common mental disorders at work place is significant and WEF must be congratulated on this initiative under the chairmanship of Shekhar Saxena and Tom Insell. On behalf of the WPA I attended the H20 summit in Melbourne speaking on the importance of public mental health prior to the recent G20 summit in Australia. World Medical Association and Australian Medical Association-Victoria branch organised a fantastic meeting and I was delighted to be a part of it speaking on mental health.

We have to start focusing on outcome based parity and human rights based equity. There is an important issue in exploring the impact of social inequality and the impact of mental illness on reduced longevity. Working with our primary care colleagues we need to raise awareness of mental health issues and look at different ways of providing care and learn from each other. World Bank are developing theme of depression as a challenge.

Executive Committee has met three times and some of the Action Points were communicated to you a few weeks ago. I propose to keep you all posted about other developments in due course.

The Action Plan approved by the General assembly in Madrid has started. Task Forces on the following topics and their leads are listed below. If you or your association which to get involved in one or more of the activities please do contact me and I shall put you in touch with the relevant people.

  1. Domestic gender based inter-personal violence :Professors Prabha Chandra and Donna Stewart

  2. Child sexual physical and emotional abuse: dr Gordana Milovic, Professors Bennet Leventhal and Paramjit Joshi

  3. Migration/Asylum seekers/Refugee mental health: Dr Meryam Schouler-Ocak and Dr Marianne Kastrup

  4. Mental health of LGBT individuals: Professor Petros Louvanis and Dr Mary Barber

  5. Mental health of persons with intellectual disability: Professor Sab Bhaumik

  6. Mental health promotion activities are being developed by 10 sections of the WPA and co-ordinated by Dr Afzal Javed

I would like to apologise for some of the problems that you may have come across on the WPA web-site. Under the new Secretary-General we hope that these will be sorted out soon.

Presidential Task forces have been set up to develop Diploma in Mental Health and to raise the WPA profile using social media. On every standing/operational committee of the WPA there will be at least one Early Career Psychiatrist as an observer.

Season’s Greetings and a very Happy and Prosperous New Year to you and your loved ones.

Dinesh Bhugra, CBE


World Psychiatric Association


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