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What we do

Advance psychiatry and mental health for people all over the world

The WPA works with its members, partners and components around the world to promote mental health and to encourage the highest possible standards of clinical practice and ethical behavior in psychiatry.  Through its education programs, meetings, publications, and scientific sections, it aims to increase knowledge about mental disorders and to grow the skills and knowledge necessary to prevent and treat them.


The association works to disseminate knowledge about evidence-based therapy and values-based practice; to be a voice for the dignity and human rights of patients and their families; and to uphold the rights of psychiatrists where they may be challenged.  Most importantly, it acts to facilitate communication and provide assistance to societies who are isolated or whose members work in impoverished circumstances.

Current programmes and initiatives

​Each triennium, and in addition to WPA's overarching goals and the ongoing work of its various components, a number of projects and programs are initiated by the incoming President to support their Action Plan.  

The 2017-2020 term focused on:

  • WPA's contribution internationally to the representation, reputation, development and knowledge of psychiatry;

  • The development of operational, project-based work that focuses on critical mental health topics at a global level; and

  • Attracting new investment to support WPA's work, especially through partnerships and other relationships with organisations that share its objectives.


These three key objectives were realised through a number of programs and initiatives, some of which are highlighted below, all of which have been continued under the 2021-2023 Action Plan.  Click on the links below to read more.

  1. WPA Service Users and Family Carers’ Advisory Group

  2. WPA Program on Supporting Alternatives to Coercion in Mental Health Care

  3. The Lancet-WPA Commission on Depression

  4. WPA Website Upgrade

  5. WPA Education Portal

  6. WPA-citiesRISE Program

  7. WPA Meetings Program

  8. Advisory Committee on Response to Emergencies (ACRE)

The current term (2020-2023) focuses on:

The new Action Plan develops and builds on these concepts as we focus on consolidating psychiatry as an inspiring branch of medicine.  Specifically, we aim to:

  • promote psychiatry as a medical specialty in clinical, academic and research areas and to promote public mental health as a guiding principle

  • highlight the specific role of psychiatrists in working with other professionals in health, legal and social aspects of care; and 

  • ensure WPA’s positive engagement with member societies and WPA components, mental health professionals & general health care workers. ​

Work has already commenced in some of these areas with the creation of six Working Groups.  Examples of some of the work those task forces have been doing can be found below.  We will continue to add to these as we accelerate this work for the new triennium.

Download the 2020-2023 Action Plan, click here.

2020-2023 Working Groups:

Public Mental Health 

Child, Adolescent & Youth Mental Health

Addressing Co-Morbidity in Mental and Physical Health

Capacity Building

Continuation and Completion of previous Action Plans Work

How we do it


Scientific Sections

The Sections are the scientific backbone of the WPA. They cover practically every aspect of psychiatry and enjoy a great degree of independence within the framework of the WPA Statutes and By-Laws. Under the supervision and guidance of the Secretary for Sections they produce symposia, publications, educational programs and consensus statements.

Read more about the Scientific Sections here.

Education Programs

The educational activities of the association and distribution of educational programs are coordinated by the Secretary for Education.  Three areas of focus support WPA’s foundational goal of sharing practical skills and knowledge across the globe: using e-technology and tools to reach and educate more psychiatrists and their communities across the globe (especially in LMIC); enhancing opportunities for face-to-face learning through the provision of travel grants and fellowships; and providing learning resources for patients, their caregivers and communities, and other key stakeholders.

Read more about our Education Programs here.

Student in Library
Several Open Books


WPA is in the unique position of being able to draw on the diversity of its membership base to create publications that span geographical boundaries, cultures, disciplines and schools of thought.  Guided by the Secretary of Publications, WPA publications play two key roles – the first is to disseminate practical and theoretical knowledge that can help drive improvements in psychiatric science and practice; the second is to promote and increase the visibility of psychiatry, mental health and the work WPA is doing worldwide.  Notably, WPA produces World Psychiatry, the number one ranked journal in Psychiatry and the number one journal in the Social Citation Index.

Read more about our Publications here.


The WPA was established to support the creation of the World Psychiatric Congress and while its purpose and role has expanded beyond that over the years, its scientific meetings remain a cornerstone of its value to the psychiatric community.  In addition to partnering with its members to host the now annual WPA World Congress of Psychiatry, WPA also supports development of thematic and regional congresses across the world.  In addition, the WPA co-sponsors a number of national scientific meetings hosted by its members, components and other reputable organisations.

Read more about our scientific meetings here.


Advocacy and Special Projects

Through its standing committee on Ethics and Review, as well as the tireless work of its Executive Committee, the WPA is a voice for modern psychiatry.  Whether it is supporting colleagues and concepts in parts of the world where psychiatry remains rooted in regressive theories, advocating for mental health support in times of crisis, conflict or disaster, or using its unique position to share local learnings on a global scale, WPA is a champion for mental health and for the role of the modern psychiatrist within it.

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