President Updates

Every two months, the WPA President endeavours to send a message to all WPA Components updating them on the latest news and work of the WPA, its members, sections, committees and some of our trusted partners. 

These messages are sent to the President and Secretary of each component for sharing with their own constituents and now you can also find them here on our website.  See below for the latest message and use the links provided to access previous copies.

Message from the

WPA President

June 2020

As countries around the world continue their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded that while we are all weathering the same storm, each of us is in a very different situation. It is vital that we work together to address the mental health implications of COVID-19 and find ways to share insights and experiences – both positive and negative – with each other.  WPA remains committed to providing a centralised point of communication and coordination for all our member societies and components. 

Scroll down to read ALL the latest WPA news or use the links below to jump straight to items that interest you most.  Please note that the links may not work on some mobile phone or tablet devices.


There is little doubt that COVID-19 has had a huge effect on the work that we are all doing and that it will continue to have impact for some time yet. As we all adjust to the changes it brings, WPA remains committed to supporting our components and to being transparent and timely in all our communications with you.  Thank you all for the ongoing support you provide to us in return.


Best wishes



Prof Helen Herrman AO

WPA President

Our Online Library of COVID-19 Mental Health resources is now among the most diverse and comprehensive available with resources that span a variety of topics, are available in a variety of languages, and are targeted toward a variety of audiences.  Going forward, WPA’s focus will be on the review of these resources to ensure all are of high-quality and also that they can be easily accessed via an intuitive and searchable index.

We have released a Position Paper Psychiatry and the Covid-19 Pandemic to support mental health professionals in their work with governments and community groups. Developed by the WPA Standing Committee on Ethics and Review, this paper is a key resource for psychiatrists to use with governments and community groups to advocate for the importance of continuing care for people with mental illness.  It will help to ensure these groups receive the care they need, and addresses restoration and enhancement of treatment and care for people with mental illness.

We are building an Education Portal that will allow WPA to deliver a range of courses via a Learning Management System (LMS) – the first of which will focus on supporting psychiatrists as many of them use e-mental health tools for the first time.  In addition to launching a number of new education and training modules as related to emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, the new portal will also house all of WPA’s existing training materials, such as the Intimate Partner Violence Curriculum and Depression Series.  More information coming soon!

One of our most important initiatives during this time is WPA’s establishment of an Advisory Council for Responding to Emergencies (ACRE).  It will oversee WPA’s efforts to provide immediate assistance to countries in need, as well as the work of several expert groups focused on priority topics such as the collection and organisation of information about the COVID-19 emergency; education coordination; e-mental health; mental health services (hospitals, community services, homeless and other vulnerable populations); and research and evaluation. 

The Council is made up of representatives from WPA’s larger member societies, particularly those with regional influence and a variety of resources at their disposal. It will assist the WPA in gathering and sharing expertise between member societies and, most importantly, help provide concrete and practical support to member societies in grave situations as the result of an emergency (such as COVID-19).

Through this initiative, WPA has already provided funding to colleagues in Nepal to assist with extra outreach services and is also aiming to provide protective equipment where there is very little in other parts of the world.  Going forward, the Council will help to organize and conduct educational activities and participate in the development of local, national and international strategies to cope with mental health consequences of emergencies. 

Many members have been asking about the 20th World Congress of Psychiatry and whether or not it will go ahead in October as planned.  We are, of course, very aware of the limitations imposed on travel and social contact as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and recognise that many of the associated restrictions will NOT be lifted by October 2020.  For this reason, we have opted to postpone the Congress until 10-13 March 2021.  We know many of you will have questions on this topic – and please be assured we will address them all.  Most important to know now is that all current registrations will be transferred to the new dates. If you have had a symposium accepted, but haven’t yet registered, you do NOT need to do so by June 1 as previously advised; and if for some reason you can no longer participate on the new dates but are already registered, we will work with you to find a solution.

WPA General Assembly (GA) and Elections for Officebearers

We will host the General Assembly (GA) online during the week of 14 October 2020.  Elections will take place ahead of the GA using a secure online system and, as is customary, the results will be announced at the conclusion of the GA meeting.  I will contact member societies to provide more details about both the voting process and the General Assembly.

We encourage you to visit our Candidate corner and Meet the Candidates for election.  Recognising the postponement of many of psychiatry's regular Scientific Meetings and networking opportunities - WPA is this year providing candidates the opportunity to share via our website information relevant to their candidacy.  Where candidates have given their permission to do so, we have included links to their biographical information, statement of work intentions, and contact details should you wish to reach out to them directly. 

Previous Updates




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The WPA is the global association representing 140 psychiatric societies in 120 countries, and bringing together more than 250,000 psychiatrists.  It promotes collaborative work in psychiatry through its 70+ scientific sections, education programs, publications and events. 
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