APA 2019 Annual Meeting in San Francisco: Veni, Vidi, Vici!

Chair of the Research Working Group and External Relations Coordinator | Anna Szczegielniak

This year’s theme of the biggest psychiatrists meeting in the world was “Revitalize Psychiatry: Disrupt, Include, Engage & Innovate”. It refers to the 175th anniversary of the American Psychiatric Association’s foundation, a milestone that marked a completely new, more compassionate approach in psychiatry that was slowly pacing a new path in the development of innovative treatments. The theme seems especially relevant in these uncertain times when science is questioned and psychiatry faces continued attacks all over the world, while the discussion on the importance of mental health inclusion is getting stronger on the international level. By sharing the space with many groups of mental health providers, users and their families, researchers, and educators, with a strong focus on underserved populations and challenges we face every day in our communities, the APA Annual Meeting 2019 has been the biggest platform allowing joint efforts and honest discussion on how we should face the challenges of our future as psychiatrists.

Among more than 15 000 participants of the event in magical San Francisco (rough estimate!) representatives of the EFPT Research Working Group were also present! Thanks to hard work and great networking skills, results of the studies conducted by members of the group were presented during two

sessions: “Brain Drain: What is Psychiatrists’ Workforce Migration and What Can We Do About It?” and “Toward Youth-Friendly Mental Health Care: Reach Out, Engage, Win”. In the first session Anna Szczegielniak and Mariana Pinto da Costa, along with Maria Bodic and Ayana Jordan, discussed young psychiatrists & trainees migration and its impact across the world, recognizing the push factors that pressure people to leave the donor country, the pull factors that make the recipient country seem attractive, while verifying patterns and duration of these flows. In the second session, Anna Szczegielniak and Justo Pinzon Espinosa discussed the current state of adolescent mental health programs with an emphasis on meaningful youth engagement in the process of planning, implementation and evaluation of these programs from the global perspective. The core was a virtual panel session during which shared perspectives of service providers, mental health advocates, and the youth representatives were presented with a strong focus on gaps and possible solutions with a strong human rights approach.

APA Annual Meeting is an overwhelming experience with multiple sessions happening at the same time, courses covering a variety of practical information and exhibition hall closer to Minotaur’s labyrinth than a room full of booths. Also, presence of pharmaceutical companies is much more visible; it’s hard to avoid contact with representatives of them and there is definitely more space for them in the agenda of the event in comparison to European conferences. Even protests against ECT were not spared to us! Yet, the EFPT representatives were able to navigate these dangerous waters and smoothly they made it to the shore with success.

Hope to see even more EFPT members in the next year’s APA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia!


Anna Szczegielniak

Chair of the Research Working Group

External Relations Coordinator