As May 2022 approaches, the psychiatry community we are all part of will take a tentative step towards a “new normality”. With sharp drops in COVID-19 cases and knowledge that the vast majority of us are vaccinated and boosted, we will be venturing forth into New Orleans for the first in-person APA Annual Meeting in three years! Like many of you, I look forward to this meeting as a chance to reconnect with dear friends and colleagues, make new connections, expand my knowledge base and skills, provoke self-reflection, and take a break to connect to the world around us. New Orleans is a terrific city to do all of this with its storied history, diverse population, wonderful restaurants, and great music complementing a stellar educational program. This year’s meeting theme is the Social Determinants of Mental Health, a vital topic for our times and there will be over 300 sessions and 1,000 posters on more than 50 different topics to meet the needs and interests of our attendees. Five full-day Master Courses are also included on psychopharmacology, suicide, first-episode psychosis, motivational interviewing, and buprenorphine.
New this year will be the 20 session Clinical Updates track, which focuses on several ABPN competency areas, including mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, substance use, personality disorders, sleep and eating disorders, and more. This track was carefully selected by the Scientific Program Committee to include both the latest science and best practices, and is aimed at giving attendees the practical tools and the knowledge they need to enable them to provide optimal and up-to-date care for their patients.
In addition to the Clinical Updates Track, there will be great sessions on a wide range of topics, including “Psychedelics in Psychiatry: Past, Present, and Pressing Issues”, “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Psychiatry”, “Apps and Innovations to Support the Practice of Psychiatry”, “Dimensions of Personality”, and “The Shame of Suicide and Attempted Suicide in Physicians. On a perhaps lighter note, “Jazz and Patient Communication” seeks to provide a novel approach to considering patient-provider interactions. Notable speakers this year include Dr. Roland Griffiths, Dr. Robin Carhart-Lewis, Dr. Nada Stotland, Dr. Stephen Stahl, Dr. Jack Drescher, and Dr. Altha Stewart.
To support the annual meeting theme, there will be a special plenary focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion that will be he held Monday morning, May 23. During the session, Dr. Sarah Vinson will join Harvard economist Dr. Peter Blair for a fireside chat addressing social determinants of mental health from a multidisciplinary lens. The Social Determinants of Mental Health Task Force is also organizing several town halls sessions to update our membership on their work advocating for equitable mental healthcare for all. Presentations on structural racism across social determinants, redefining antiracist transformation, challenges to evidence based practice in American Indian and indigenous community mental health, as well as others reinforce our need to reflect and act as clinicians and citizens.
Notably, this year’s research track is from the National Institute of Drug Abuse and includes 8 sessions on topics such as neuroplasticity and treatment of addictions, neurobiology of sleep and substance use, non-invasive brain stimulation, and research updates on treatment of methamphetamine use. This track will kick off on Saturday, May 21 at 1:30 with NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow discussing “Social Determinants of Substance Use Disorders during COVID Time”.
Most importantly, please know that the safety of our meeting attendees, speakers, and guests are our number ONE concern. Everyone at the meeting will be fully vaccinated, and the convention center and hotels have all instituted protocols to protect the health and safety of everyone in attendance.
Dr. Pender, the Scientific Program Committee, the APA staff, and I hope you will join us in New Orleans at the Annual Meeting to reconnect, reflect, grow, and learn. There really is something for everyone!
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
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