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July 2011
News from the Section on Transcultural Psychiatry - The Chair’s Report: Spring 2011

The past six months have been a very active period in the life of our Section.

Over the three-day holiday weekend at the end of October 2010, known as Halloween in North America, and as All Saints Day in Latin America and much of Europe, the WPA Section on Transcultural Psychiatry co-sponsored the ‘1st international conference on cultural psychiatry in the Spanish-speaking world’ under the leadership of our colleague Prof. Joseba Achotegui, and co-sponsored by the University of Barcelona. The conference, held in Barcelona, was a striking success and very well attended.

In December the Section was co-sponsor of the 4th annual international conference on cultural psychiatry in the German-speaking countries, hosted and co-sponsored by DTPPP, the Association of Transcultural Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy in the German-speaking world. The conference was held on 9-11 December 2010 in Dusseldorf. The conference was attended by some 250 people, including psychiatrists, psychologists and specialists in a number of other disciplines related to immigration, public health, social welfare and mental health services.

In April 2011, the Section co-sponsored, together with the Minkowska Center in Paris, the ‘1st international conference on cultural psychiatry in the French-speaking world’. Dr. Rachid Bennegadi was chairman of the Paris Organizing Committee and co-chair of the conference which was held during a stretch of glorious spring weather on 18-20 April 2011. The venue for the conference was the very contemporary Georges Pompidou European Hospital, within sight of the iconic Eiffel Tower.

And yet, despite the enormous draw of Paris in springtime, all the plenary sessions and symposia that were held throughout the three days of the conference attracted a large number of participants. The atmosphere was extraordinarily cordial, and there was a great deal of lively exchange of ideas among conference participants. This same sense of pleasure in being together was very evident throughout the evening that we spent together on a dinner cruise along the Seine.

Also in April, the first special issue of Transcutural Psychiatry sponsored by the Section on Transcultural Psychiatry was published. This was a double issue of the journal, comprised of twelve articles on the theme ‘the personal and the professional; the lives and careers of cultural psychiatrists’. This special issue is the result of two years of dedicated effort by the Section, our twelve colleagues who contributed spirited, moving, thoughtful and diverse articles on the theme, and the editorial staff of Transcultural Psychiatry. It is the manifestation of an important milestone in the life of the Section; the completion of a formal agreement between the WPA, the Section on Transcultural Psychiatry, the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry of McGill University, and Sage Publications by which Transcultural Psychiatry has become the ‘official journal’ of the WPA Section on Transcultural Psychiatry. The intention of the agreement is that this inaugural ‘special issue’ of Transcutural Psychiatry will be followed by another special issue sponsored by our Section each year. Planning is underway now for the second special issue, on the theme ‘current research on cultural psychiatry around the world’.

Our Section has been preparing over the past year to take a very active part in the scientific program of the XV World Congress of Psychiatry that will be held in Buenos Aires on 18-22 September 2011. Our efforts have been successful to the extent that the Section proposed ten symposia on the overall theme ‘current research on cultural psychiatry around the world’. All ten symposia have been accepted. They will address current cultural psychiatry research in Canada, USA, Asian countries, France, Scandinavian countries, Britain, The Netherlands, Russia, Caribbean countries, Spanish-speaking countries, and German-speaking countries.
In addition, the Section will sponsor a ‘Section symposium’ on the theme ‘culture and person-centered psychiatry’, and will sponsor another symposium on the theme of ‘cross-cultural studies of demoralization and depression’ drawing on the theme of our WPA-funded Section on Transcultural Psychiatry research project, directed by Dr John de Figueiredo on ‘demoralization and depression in cancer patients’.

Taking all these symposia into account, the Section will be represented by no less than fifty individual presentations within the scientific program of the Buenos Aires Congress.

The WPA is holding a major international ‘thematic conference’ in Istanbul on 9-12 June 2011. A number of members of our Section are planning to participate in that conference. The Section is sponsoring a symposium on the theme ‘acculturative stress and immigration policy in an age of fear of terrorism’, as well as a course for trainees and early career psychiatrists on the theme ‘clinical assessment and treatment of patients with diverse cultural backgrounds’.

During the month of June, our Section will be holding its triennial election for eight members of the Executive Committee of the Section for the term of office September 2011 through September 2014. The ballot sheets will be distributed by the office of our Secretary Dr Rachid Bennegadi during the first week of June. Completed ballots need to be returned to Dr Bennegadi’s office by 30 June.

The results of the June election will be announced during the Section’s Business Meeting which will be held on Wednesday, 21 September during the Buenos Aires Congress.

At the Business Meeting, the Executive Committee will also review plans for the activities of our Section in 2012 and 2013.
   
The current Executive Committee’s term of office ends in September 2011. During the Congress in Buenos Aires, a working lunch meeting will be arranged between the current Executive Committee members and those elected for the term 2011-2014.

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