It is not easy to write this seasonal message given the situation in which our world finds itself: crises on all continents, terrorist attacks, armed conflicts and wars, societies split by polarising views, houses washed away, and forests burning.
According to the World Health Organization, “War, armed conflict and other man-made or natural disasters cause profound distress and can in some cases ignite or inflame existing mental health conditions. Most people will recover without help; however, an estimated 1 in 5 people will have a mental health condition in the next 10 years, and 1 in 10 will have a severe condition like post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis.” We as members of the WPA, the world’s largest psychiatric association, can and should contribute with scientifically-based advice for mitigating those mental health consequences.
ACRE (Advisory Committee on Responses to Emergencies) brings together leaders within the WPA to facilitate practical and concrete aid to Member Societies in need, to foster education, information collection, and the development of local, national, and international strategies to cope with the mental health consequences of emergencies. Evidence-based materials, specific to gender, vulnerable groups, culture, and geographic regions are under development to help First Aiders encounter acute crises and life-threatening situations appropriately and immediately.
All WPA activities in my Action Plan (2023 - 2026) are governed by a set of principles called EDIT: Equality across genders, ages, and ethnicities; consideration of Developmental stages from childhood to adulthood, and beyond; Inclusion of under-represented groups; and awareness of Transcultural perspectives.
I strongly believe in intercontinental scientific collaborations between colleagues of different cultural, religious, and political backgrounds, which promote dialogue, build mutual understanding, and increase public awareness of the consequences of global turmoil on mental health. Science, in this time of pessimism and possibly even resignation, is a key facilitator for achieving a better future for all.
Wishing you all the energy and strength in 2024 to combine your dedication to the WPA’s work with caring for your own health, as well as that of your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your patients.
Author: Prof. Danuta Wasserman, WPA President
*photo credit: Photo by energepic.com: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-lighted-firecracker-288478/