ATLANTA — In yesterday’s opening session, Maria A. Oquendo, MD, president-elect of the American Psychiatric association, declared “prevention through partnerships” as the theme of her upcoming presidency and explained ways in which the theme can be fulfilled in mental health care.
The key to prevention through partnerships is integrated care, according to Oquendo.
Maria A. Oquendo
Prevention can begin by addressing individuals with subthreshold symptoms of mental illness by working closely with physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and case workers who see the majority of individuals seeking health care.
Obstetricians and pediatricians can also play a role in prevention of mental illness, as they have direct access to new mothers who are at-risk for postpartum depression.
It is well known that maternal mental health significantly affects mental health of children, therefore, preventing mental illness in mothers may also prevent mental illness in children.
“We are at the threshold of a very exciting time for psychiatry,” Oquendo said. “We know more about the brain than ever and new treatments are being developed that range from psychopharmacology to behavioral interventions and from brain stimulation to psychological treatments. We are poised to join our sister disciplines in medicine to develop preventive strategies. These will be the centerpieces of 21st century medicine and 21st century psychiatry.”
Binder’s presidential address
In her presidential address, Renée Binder, MD, president of the American Psychiatric Association, explained to the audience their responsibility as psychiatrists and what still needs to be done to “claim their future” as mental health professionals.
These areas of responsibility include:
- caring for our neediest citizens;
- decreasing stigma;
- increasing funding for research and delineating diagnoses and treatment;
- advocating for our leadership role in new models of care and increasing access to mental health care; and
- assuming responsibility for measures of quality, confidence and advocacy.
“We must assume our responsibility to help our neediest patients, decrease stigma, improve diagnoses, advocate for research funding, continue to strengthen parity enforcement, work to improve access to care, continue to educate our members and be responsible for the quality of care provided by our profession,” Binder said. “There is no health care without mental health care. Mental health care is a right and not a privilege.”
, MD, MPH, a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, gave a lecture relating his experiences as a surgeon to mental health.
“Being able to articulate people’s goals besides living longer can turn care into something different. It can put you on the same side of the patient,” Gawande said. “We’re struggling in a time now where our practices are fragmented by all of our specialty capabilities. All of us only have a piece of care and what we’re experiencing are all the ways in which those fall apart when we are unable to be clear about the goals we are trying to achieve and have clarity about well-being.
“Many times the people who have the greatest anxiety, greatest difficulty navigating the system, and have the most suffering about what’s happening in their family or for themselves are seeing you. You are essential to that system and that ability to clarify the goals of care... You all are being discovered again. The ways in which you have clarity that you can bring to people about what their well-being is and where they find it and how we all can contribute to achieving it,” he concluded. – by Amanda Oldt
Opening session and special lecture by Atul Gawande, MD, MPH. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 14-18, 2016; Atlanta.