American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

May 07, 2018
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Innovation, technology, burnout featured at APA 2018 opening session

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Anita Everett, MD
Anita Everett
 

NEW YORK — During the opening session of the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, current President Anita Everett, MD, reflected on her accomplishments, and President-elect Altha J. Stewart, MD, discussed her goals for her upcoming term.

“I can hardly put into words the gratitude I have for all the people who helped make this year’s meeting meaningful for me, as well as for our profession of psychiatry,” Everett said.

There are approximately 45,000 to 49,000 psychiatrists in the United State, about 75% of whom are APA members, with membership growing over the past 4 years.

In her talk, Everett, who is chief medical officer at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, advocated for community psychiatry as a great career choice and discussed the workgroups she formed over the last year, which focused on well-being and burnout. In this workgroup, members of the APA took surveys that revealed over half of them show signs of burnout, female physicians are at higher risk of burnout compared with males, and burnout effects those just beginning their careers. She also discussed the unknowns of whether using technology and smartphone apps to manage psychiatric conditions virtually can be effective.

“A part of the future of our profession depends on our ability to work with innovation so that it augments what we do and is built upon evidence for patients, and not necessarily on profit margins,” she said.

Altha Stewart, MD
Altha J. Stewart

After her introduction, Stewart, who is associate professor of psychiatry and director in the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth, at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, spoke of her intention to engage early-career, resident and fellow members; encourage seasoned members to become mentors; and ensure the next generation of psychiatrists are getting the right guidance, so they have the proper tools to deal with social determinants of mental health.

“The APA must develop a sustainable strategy for the future that reflects the needs and the voices of our colleagues who are just beginning their careers,” Stewart said.

She also spoke of her goal to expand the APA’s work in global mental health through collaboration with colleagues from around the world. She hopes the APA will launch more global initiatives in the future.

During her term, Stewart also plans to explore social issues that continue to affect the mental health of many Americans and how psychiatry can and should respond to racism, sexism, ageism and homophobia.

“We’ve seen how these issues effect everyday lives through Black Lives Matter, the MeToo Movement, the recent issues facing transgender Americans serving in our military, and many more,” Stewart said. “The evidence is clear that discrimination and many forms of harassment have a lifelong negative effect on mental health for all, but especially women of color, women, gays and lesbians, immigrants and others.”

The APA is not new to addressing issues of diversity and inclusions, but there is more work to be done, she said.

“We are the American Psychiatric Association and our mission is to promote the highest quality care for all individuals with mental health issues,” Stewart said. “In order for the APA to be successful in the future, we must serve as a role model for how we might use our unique skills in understanding how organizations can deal with cultural differences, behaviors and needed changes in the rest of medicine and the nation. To do that, however, we must overcome this gap between the people we serve and our words and actions as an organization.” – by Savannah Demko

Reference:

Stewart AJ. Opening session. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 5-9, 20178; New York.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.