Greetings for the new year! It is difficult to believe it is already February – these first months of my presidency have gone by quickly with a substantial amount of work on our 2020-2023 Action Plan already underway. The new Executive Committee has met several times since the General Assembly in October and has finalised changes made at that time to the WPA Statutes & Bylaws, and Manual of Procedures. Updated versions of both documents are now available on our website.
We have also established 16 Working Groups to tackle our six key priorities: Capacity Building; Public Mental Health; Child, Adolescent and Youth Mental Health; Addressing Co-Morbidity in Mental Health; Partnerships with other Professional Organisations and NGO’s; and Continuation and Completion of the previous Action Plan’s work. Each of these groups has brought together its members to develop terms of reference and agree on projects for the future. A list of the groups is available here and each of them will soon have a page on the website through which we will keep members informed of their work.
Meanwhile, WPA’s Advisory Council on Response to Emergencies (ACRE), established last year to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies, continues its excellent work in support of children in Nepal. Through ACRE, we have been able to arrange professional support from the Royal College of Psychiatrists UK to train mental health professionals in Belarus; while the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has provided a generous grant to Papua New Guinea in support of ongoing work on COVID-19.
Our meetings program is in full swing. Planning for the 2021 WPA World Congress of Psychiatry in Cartagena is well-underway and we are excited to have an in-person meeting scheduled. Certainly, as COVID-19 vaccinations are rolled out across much of the globe, our hope is that the opportunity to safely travel will once again be restored.
In December last year, we hosted a virtual thematic congress on Intersectional Collaboration “Psychological Trauma: Global burden on mental and physical health”. Presentations from the meeting are available via our website and a full report of the meeting is available HERE. We also co-sponsored a number of online events, including the 2020 WISH Summit and, more recently, a joint webinar with the World Health Organization (WHO) on “The COVID pandemic in Europe: Lessons learnt”. WPA is now exploring with WHO, the possibility of arranging similar meetings in other WHO zones.
Work also continues on our first-ever virtual World Congress of Psychiatry which is now less than two months away. We have a wonderful program of interactive sessions and world-class speakers, and our team is busy putting the final touches on what is sure to be an engaging and fulfilling Congress experience. If you haven’t already registered to participate, I encourage you to do so – especially as we now have a very exciting addition to the program! This year, all paying Congress registrants will receive complimentary access to WPA’s WCP Online Learning Program.
Many of you will already be familiar with the courses we usually run the day prior to a World Congress – attendees can register and pay to attend an expert-led session on a topic of their interest. To celebrate the launch of WPA’s new Education Portal – all paying WCP 2021 registrants will be eligible to register FREE for any of the ten WCP Online Learning courses, scheduled to take place throughout the coming year. Just like our in-person courses, there will be activities, discussion and opportunities for interaction, with participants who successfully complete the course receiving a Certificate of Participation. This opportunity is a valuable addition to an already outstanding scientific agenda, and we are very grateful to our colleagues who are contributing their time and expertise to this new program. Our first Course, directed by Dr Davor Mucic on the topic of Telepsychiatry, will take place later this month. The full course schedule is available here.
All courses from the WCP Online Learning Program will eventually be available on the WPA Education Portal. A key part of our Educational Program led by WPA Secretary for Education, Roger Ng, the portal was established last year under the leadership of my predecessor, Professor Helen Herrman. It now houses WPA’s many educational resources – including our COVID-19 Resource Library and well-regarded Comorbidity and Depression series.
This year, a selection of new and updated resources has also been added. One program we are especially excited about is a course on Evidence-based Psychotherapies, which has been developed to help psychiatrists in all countries, in particular trainees and early career psychiatrists, improve competency in this area. Produced by WPA’s Psychotherapy Section under the leadership of Professor César A. Alfonso, the course materials are divided into eight modules, and include articles, presentations, videos and self-assessment tools. You can read more about it here.
Also available on the portal, is our very popular Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Against Women curriculum. The English language version has now been updated to be more interactive than ever before with presentations, reading lists, teaching points and quizzes. We will be working over this next year to update the other language versions as well. In the meantime, the original PDFs remain available on our website and via the portal.
Going forward, it is our hope that this new portal will not only facilitate further education in psychiatry but also that it will encourage and inspire learning among colleagues and trainees around the world. If you have a course or resources you would like to see included on the portal, please contact WPA’s Education Coordinator, Catherine Devine.
2020 will be remembered by many of us as one of the most challenging years in our lifetime. But it was also a year that provided us with an unparalleled opportunity to learn, adapt, educate and inspire. I look forward to continuing those philosophies into 2021 and beyond.
Dr Afzal Javed
World Psychiatric Association