Summer 2021 Issue
By Badr Ratnakaran, MBBS
PGY4 Resident in Psychiatry
Carilion Clinic - Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
After canceling the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Annual Meeting of the APA was conducted virtually this year. This year’s meeting theme was “Finding Equity Through Advances in Mind & Brain in Unsettled Times.” The theme focuses on disparities in healthcare and ways for pursuing meaningful and equitable care for our patients.
Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer prize-winning author, delivered the keynote address titled, “Our Racial Moment of Truth.” Miss Wilkerson highlighted the issues of systemic racism and the invisible caste system it has created as a hierarchy in our society based on race. Miss Wilkerson also described how the stress of systemic racism can cause telomere shortening, leading to many diseases in the African-American population compared to their counterparts in the African sub-continent.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, delivered the 2021 William C. Menninger Memorial Convocation Lecture where he gave an overview of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, including worsening mental health problems in the general population during the pandemic and the current threat of vaccine hesitancy in the general population. Dr. Robert Sapolsky, neuroendocrine researcher and acclaimed author, was the keynote speaker of the meeting’s closing session and delivered a speech on our advances on neuroscientific understanding of human behaviors and challenges we will face when using more effective tools in treating mental illness.
The meeting sessions highlighted a range of topics; from diversity and equity in mental health, challenges faced by psychiatry during the COVID-19 pandemic, physician well-being, law and mental health, to climate change and its effects on mental health.
Dr. Dinesh Bhugra, past president of the World Psychiatric Association and Royal College of Psychiatrists, discussed the state of social justice and human rights of individuals with mental illness around the world, highlighting the threats to it caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including access to telehealth and mental health problems that are to be expected in children, due to lack of socialization from missing in-person schooling during the pandemic.
Dr. Malcolm Lazin provided a lecture on Dr. John E. Fryer and his activism for LGBT rights and removing homosexuality as an illness from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Dr. Andrew White et al. conducted a session and open discussion on current policies, practices, and the importance of cognitive screening in late career physicians. Dr. Yingcheng Xu et al. discussed the issues and controversies related to legalized medically assisted death and the proposal of palliative psychiatry to address treatment futility in psychiatry.
Dr. Meghan Musselman et al. conducted a session on not-often discussed topic of sexual safety of patients in inpatient psychiatric units and strategies to improving it. Dr. Djibril Moussa et al. conducted a panel session on their experiences as psychiatrists being redeployed during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Linda Seaman and Dr. William Lynes, in a stirring session led by Dr. Michael Myers, described their experiences of being a spouse to a physician who committed suicide and being a physician who survived a suicide attempt, respectively.
Drs. Seam and Lynes made an impassioned request to the psychiatric community to protect and advocate for care of physicians suffering mental illness and suicide.
The 2022 Annual Meeting of the APA is expected to be conducted in-person in New Orleans from May 21-25 with the theme of Sociopolitical Determinants of Mental Health.
September 24-25, 2021
Hilton Norfolk The Main
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