The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ recently held its Annual Congress in Darwin. The theme of the 2011 Congress was “Close Relations” and the program had a strong focus on regional and international partnerships, Indigenous mental health, and the importance of community and carers within psychiatric practice.
The Congress brought together around 950 mental health experts from a diverse range of areas across cultures and age groups. Drs. Tsuyoshi Akiyama, Jun Shigemura and Yuriko Suzuki presented at the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology symposium. We were very privileged to have them attend, and hope we were able to provide some collegiate support to them at such a difficult time for Japan. This was the first international presentation of the emergency mental health disaster response following the recent devastating Japanese disasters. They spoke of the impact of the unprecedented triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear emergency. They described the development of the coordinated Disaster response, the challenges they are facing, and the massive impact on the emergency personnel who continue to work under extremely difficult circumstances.
Prof. Ma Hong, a specialist in crisis intervention and public mental health in China, delivered her keynote address entitled Meeting the needs: Disaster victims and rescuers in China. Dr. Cornelia Wieman, Canada’s first female Aboriginal psychiatrist and Co-Director of the Indigenous Health Research Development Program also gave a keynote address entitled “The mental health of Indigenous peoples: A Canadian perspective”. The next RANZCP Congress will be held in Hobart, Australia in May 2012.