Letter from the President

Our 2013 meeting in Toronto may only be a memory but the good feelings about it are still strong. I’ve heard from many of you since we wrapped up the program on May 5th and the opinions were that this meeting was one of the best. Thanks to all who made it successful, but especially to our Toronto hosts, Kenneth Fung, Lisa Andermann, Ted Lo, and the Hong Fook Mental Health Association who brought an important clinical focus to our discussion of stigma on the first day.

Although the ink is not dry on the 2013 meeting files the Program Committee has begun gearing up for the 2014 meeting in San Diego. The theme is “Trauma, Recovery, and Culture”. The dates are set for our standard three full days of sessions: Thursday through Saturday, May 15-17, with the possibility of a special half day workshop on Sunday. We will be at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego. Look for further details about the meeting on the SSPC website, www.psychiatryandculture.org and in forthcoming newsletters.

A block of rooms is being held at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Old Town, which is just a few minutes from the Kroc Institute. The room rate is $139.00 plus tax, including breakfast. The hotel’s reservation telephone number is (619) 299-7400 . Rooms are limited and May is a busy time in San Diego, so please be sure to book early and tell them you will be attending the SSPC meeting.

The most important date coming up is the deadline for abstracts — September 16th. We have new guidelines for submitting abstracts this year, so please read them carefully and follow the instructions completely, including the requirements for a reference in each abstract and learning objectives for every presentation.

The SSPC Board met on June 21 to consider several time-sensitive proposals:

  • Transcultural Psychiatry, edited by Board member Laurence Kirmayer, proposed an affiliation with SSPC that includes an online copy of the Journal for each SSPC member and a loose commitment on the part of TCP to publish papers from members’ presentations at our annual meetings in special issues. TCP, a Sage publication, is one of the most important journals in our field. This is a great value added benefit to membership in SSPC. There will be a $15 increase in 2014 dues ($5 for trainees) to cover the cost of the online subscription, which is usually only available to members. SSPC members will be able to supplement their online subscription with a print subscription for only $30/yr, well below the $111 cost for an individual subscription. The Board unanimously accepted the proposal and is proud to include this affiliation with TCP as a new SSPC membership benefit. Online subscriptions will begin with the first issue of 2014.
  • The Board also took two additional actions. A committee was formed with Larry Merkel as Chair, to consider publishing an SSPC casebook on cultural psychiatry. While there was considerable enthusiasm for this project, Board members are aware of the time and effort involved in producing a quality book and approach the project cautiously. Larry and his committee will report back to the Board within three months with their committee’s recommendation.
  • Finally, at the recommendation of Francis Lu, the Board endorsed the APA Council on Minority Mental Health and Health Disparities suggestions to the APA’s Milestone Project, which advises the APA Council of Medical Education and Lifelong Learning. Simply, but I hope accurately put, the Board is hoping to include the cultural formulation and culturally-sensitive treatment in every psychiatric training program.

From the Desk of the Executive Director: You Told Us What You Want and We’re Responding

by Sylvanna Vargas and Elizabeth Kramer

Thank you to all who participated in our anonymous survey and the luncheon discussion groups during the 2013 annual meeting. We were especially gratified to receive so many responses from long-term members. You gave us lots of good feedback, some of which will take further deliberation by the Board, or more money than we currently have, but we already have begun to do some of the things you suggested.

You told us you like the format of the meeting, so basically we will stick with it. We will do our best to facilitate networking and dialogue among participants.

We will schedule more time for clinical supervision of trainees during the meeting. In addition, a small committee headed by Sadeq Rahimi is investigating both the work involved and the expense of updating our website. In addition to making it more attractive, we hope to offer web-based teaching and case consultation, as well as possibly operate a clearinghouse.

The membership committee has been charged with developing a first class brochure aimed at both recruiting and retaining members. The brochure will include information about the Spiegel and Hughes awards. As part of the recruitment effort, the brochure will be sent to all of the academic psychiatry programs in North America and to all of the residency programs on the AADPRT list as well as to the SAMHSA minority lists.

We now have a regular quarterly newsletter, edited by Shannon Suo, which is emailed to all members and available at our website. This is a good way to keep in touch with everyone. Perhaps someday we will have a blog.

We also have a recently formed research committee, headed by Albert Yeung. We will ask them to organize a research workshop for new investigators during the 2014 meeting, and we will try to have a few clinically focused workshops. We also will have a poster session next year.

Many of you wanted us to partner with other organizations. This year we will have participation by Survivors of Torture International, a San Diego-based organization on whose board Jim Jaranson sits. Many of you expressed interest in having a meeting in Boston, and we are exploring the feasibility of doing that in 2015, quite possibly in concert with the Society of Psychological Anthropologists.

These are just a few of the things that are happening. Please stay tuned for further developments.

SSPC’s First Time in Toronto: Annual Meeting Report

by Lisa Andermann

The SSPC annual conference took place in Toronto, Canada for the first time, from May 3-5, 2013. Also for the first time, it was a collaborative effort with two cosponsors, the University of Toronto (which provided accreditation and CME credits) and the Hong Fook Mental Health Association. The Hong Fook Mental Health Association is a community-based organization providing mental health resources, case management, family support and education for the Asian population in the Greater Toronto Area.

The first day of this year’s meeting was a joint session with the biennial Diversity in Mental Health and Addictions Conference, spearheaded by Hong Fook and a group of front line community organizations as well as several teaching hospitals. There were four sessions sponsored by SSPC during the day, with opportunities to attend other conference workshops as well. Topics included stigma amongst youth; stigma in HIV affected populations; culture and DSM-V; traditional healing; research on stigma; self-stigma and social stigma amongst peer support workers; and perinatal mental health in diverse communities. This was followed by 2 SSPC-only days on Saturday and Sunday, and included a special case formulation session for psychiatry residents.

Small group discussion, Living with Stigma : Consumer and Family Perspectives

Small group discussion, Living with Stigma : Consumer and Family Perspectives

Following welcomes by SSPC President Steven Wolin, Hong Fook Executive Director Bonnie Wong and University of Toronto’s Molyn Leszcz, the conference began with an excellent keynote presentation by Heather Stuart, the first chair in anti-stigma research in mental health, from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. The discussion that took place after the keynote, moderated by Kenneth Fung, also included an opportunity for interaction between the multidisciplinary participants around the tables, and for SSPC members to interact with new colleagues in Toronto.

After the rich diversity of morning and afternoon workshops, the first day ended with a panel session on peer support and reflections from persons and family members with lived experience of mental illness, moderated by Molyn Leszcz, followed by a reception hosted by SSPC.

Sara Lewis, 2013 Charles H. Hughes Fellow

Sara Lewis, 2013 Charles H. Hughes Fellow

The Charles H. Hughes Memorial Fellowship Lecture was given by Sara Lewis, PhD candidate from Columbia University, who spoke about her experience among Tibetan refugees and their practice of compassion and “mind training” as a form of coping and resilience.

One of the highlights of the conference was a media presentation by Mohan Agashe, a psychiatrist and actor from India, moderated by Jaswant Guzder, who used films and video clips to highlight how film could be used as a way to explore reactions to mental illness and disability including stigma, discrimination, family support and empathy. Dr. Francis Lu also shared some of his teaching videos addressing stigma and mental illness amongst immigrant populations in the United States.

As one of the local co-hosts, together with Kenneth Fung, we hope that everyone enjoyed their experience in Toronto and look forward to seeing you next year in San Diego!

Book Your Hotel Now for the 2014 Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting for 2014 is being held at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego. A block of rooms is reserved for SSPC at the  Fairfield Inn and Suites in Old Town, just a few minutes from the Kroc Institute.

The room rate is $139.00 plus tax, including breakfast, single or double occupancy. The hotel’s reservation telephone number is (619) 299-7400. Rooms are limited and May is a busy time in San Diego, so please be sure to book early and tell them you will be attending the SSPC meeting.

The hotel is only 3.7 miles from the airport (SAN) and there is a complimentary airport shuttle. Call (619) 299-7400 to arrange pick up between 5 am-noon and 3 pm-9 pm. Please remember that all attendees are responsible for their own expenses.

3900 Old Town Ave, San Diego, CA 92110

Quote – Annual Meeting 2013

“The SSPC (meeting) is a unique opportunity for residents to play an active role in learning how theory and policy directly affect clinical care…residents were also given the chance to make career associated partnerships guiding them in what they ultimately want to pursue,” —Nisha Shah, resident

Resident Reflections on the SSPC 2013 Annual Meeting

The SSPC Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada was my first SSPC meeting. Right away, Dr. Heather Stuart dynamically spoke about stigma in health care settings, and by the conclusion of her presentation, I was left thinking about my personal role in the stigma of mental illness and how I might play a part in destigmatization. I felt enriched by the group supervision during the case conference that was offered exclusively to residents. The cases presented by residents were intriguing, and the insight and expertise offered in the small group setting was unparalleled, considering the simultaneous access to so many experts. I was also able to learn about the DSM 5 updates on culture-bound syndromes and the glossary of cultural concepts of distress during a symposium presented by leaders in the field. I was moved by the presentation by Mohan Agashe in which he utilized film to address the stigma of mental illness. I was stimulated by the session on Developing and Maintaining a Refugee Cultural Consultation Clinic and left the conference inspired to initiate discussions about creating a cultural psychiatry elective at my institution.

The value of the meeting was enhanced by having breakfast and lunch together each day, facilitating networking between attendees, and I found everyone from trainees at other institutions to members of the Board of Directors very approachable. At the APA Annual Meeting and a research resident retreat later in the month, I encountered residents that I had met at the SSPC Annual Meeting, and I treasured the opportunity to network and socialize again.

I’m left with a positive experience through the many opportunities to learn, network and bond over meals and social gatherings. I hope to attend the meeting in 2014 in San Diego. I definitely hope to meet more trainees (and experts) there!