SSPC 2012 Meeting in the Big Apple

SSPC 2012 Meeting in the Big Apple

by Ramaswamy Viswanathan

The SSPC Annual Meeting, May 9 – 12, was held in a historic part of New York City known for its rich immigrant heritage and cultural diversity. The first 3 days were held at the Angel Orensanz Center for Contemporary Art, a former synagogue-turned-banquet hall and art museum with high ceilings, intricate carvings, and stained glass windows, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Kudos to our Executive Director, Liz Kramer, for her arranging this unique backdrop reflecting the values of the SSPC. Different ethnic foods were catered each day.

Jim accepts an award from at dinner at Grand Harmony Restaurant Photo Credit: John Onate

Jim accepts an award from at dinner at Grand Harmony Restaurant
Photo Credit: John Onate

The theme of the conference was Globalization and the Dilemmas of Multiculturalism. The attendees were given a rich scientific program thanks to the great work of our dynamic Program Chair, Steven Wolin, and the rest of the Program Committee. The keynote speech by Rachid Bennegadi on Day 1 on Phenomenology, bicultural identity and globalization was an apt introduction to the theme of the conference. The day was capped by dinner at the Grand Harmony restaurant in Chinatown. Even walking to the restaurant through the streets of Chinatown was a great cultural experience.

Keynote speaker Dilip Jeste talks about Aging and Wisdom across  Photo Credit: John Onate

Keynote speaker Dilip Jeste talks about Aging and Wisdom across
Photo Credit: John Onate

Day 2 opened with a keynote speech by Dilip Jeste on Aging and Wisdom Across Cultures. This was the first meeting addressed by Dr. Jeste after assuming the office of the President of the American Psychiatric Association. At lunch, Board members of the SSPC met with Dr. Jeste, discussing ways the APA and the SSPC could work together to advance common objectives.

The afternoon session opened with a keynote speech by Suzanne Wasserman, Director of the Gotham Center for NYC History. She talked about the immigrant history of the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and screened her documentary film “Sweat Shop Cinderella”. The highlight of the evening was a tour at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. The tour was conducted in actual apartments of immigrants, keeping or restoring the furnishings and appliances of their occupants in the mid 19th century or early 20th century.

Day 3 started with a keynote speech by Monica McGoldrick on Culture & Connection: Attending to culture in clinical practice. This was a part of a symposium on Therapy or Immigrant Families. This session was in honor of John Spiegel. This was followed by the Charles Hughes Memorial Lecture by Bonnie Fullard, a doctoral student in anthropology at Emory University whose topic was Reflechi Twop (Thinking Too Much), a cultural syndrome in Haiti.

Outgoing President Jim Boehnlein presents on the Torture Treatment Center of Oregon Photo Credit: John Onate

Outgoing President Jim Boehnlein presents on the Torture Treatment Center of Oregon
Photo Credit: John Onate

The final day was held in two different locations: Hamilton-Madison House, home to the largest multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community mental health clinic in New York City, and the University Settlement at the Chinatown YMCA. Psychiatry trainees presented their cases and got input from experienced SSPC members on transference and counter-transference issues in cross-cultural settings in both individual and family therapy. The meeting concluded with Cultural Components of the DSM-5. This session was not only informative of the work being done regarding cultural competence in the diagnostic system of psychiatry, but it also brought to light some important roles that SSPC members are playing.

Overall, this was a great cultural summit experience for all attendees, both in the meeting itself and in their outside experience in culturally-vibrant NYC. The meeting had good international participation, the staff kept things moving smoothly, the presentations were high caliber, the audience was keenly involved in all discussions; and their discussions contributed a lot to the success of this meeting. Of note was the creativity, enthusiasm and scholarliness of the trainees at the conference, which bodes well for the field of cultural psychiatry and the vitality of the SSPC!

President’s Message

Dear Members and Friends,

I hope everyone is having a good summer and looking forward to a productive fall. SSPC is growing, and the Board and committees are working hard on new projects as well as planning for the annual meeting in 2013. Here is a summary of our accomplishments since May:

A new dues schedule was approved at the annual SSPC Board meeting. Beginning January 2013 the annual dues for MDS will be $175.00; retired and early (<5yrs) career physicians will pay $100.00; psychologists, nurses, social workers $75.00; residents and other trainees 50.00. Dues will be assessed on an annual calendar basis.  New members joining after July 1 of any given year will be considered paid in full for the following year. A dues form is available at

Individuals wanting to receive CME credit for attending the meeting will be required to pre-register for the credits and will incur a $25.00 processing fee for the certification. We will continue to issue non-CME certificates of attendance to all other attendees who request them at no additional cost. However, all continuing education paperwork must be completed during the meeting.

Changes were approved for Executive Committee and Board membership. Beginning immediately, all Board members will serve one three year term, with an option for a second term; four members will rotate off the board every year and 4 new members will join the Board each year – two to be elected by the membership, two to be appointed by the executive committee; the Board will include at least one member-in-training, and at least one non-physician; the election of new Board members will occur prior to the executive committee appointments. Finally, a group of international advisers will be invited by the president to participate in Board discussions, although not as voting members.

The 2012-13 Executive Committee currently has 9 members (6 officers plus the chairs and co-chairs of three committees). They are listed on the last page of the newsletter with e-mail addresses.

The SSPC Board currently consists of 14 members, the 9 members of the Executive Committee plus 5 general members, including one trainee, and one non-physician) – Michael Hollifield, Jim Jaranson, Laurence Kirmayer, Brandon Kohrt, and Joan Koss. Two members were appointed to join the Board by the President prior to the changes in the bylaws. Consequently two additional members will be elected by the membership later this year and will join the Board prior to the annual meeting in May.

The 2013 Annual Meeting
Our annual meeting will be held at the Delta Chelsea Hotel, Toronto, from Friday-Sunday May 3-5, 2013, co-hosted by the University of Toronto. In a collaboration unique for SSPC, the first day will be jointly and collaboratively held with another local conference, the Diversity and Equity in Mental Health and Addictions Conference. The latter is a biennial conference in Toronto hosted by Hong Fook Mental Health Association, an ethno-specific mental health community agency, in partnership with the University of Toronto academic hospitals, Toronto Public Health, and other community agencies. This local conference features diverse topics ranging from clinical to academic perspectives, and is attended by frontline workers, managers, policy makers, clinicians, and researchers from multiple disciplines in the mental health field. Our annual conference will thus be enriched by tapping into local grassroots community and academic resources and expertise, promoting multidisciplinary exchange and cross-fertilization of ideas The meeting theme is stigma, an issue very relevant to our work .

Our joint meeting on Friday, May 3rd will feature Dr. Heather Stuart from Queen’s University Canada, Senior Consultant for the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Anti-stigma/Anti-discrimination Campaign and the world’s first Chair on Anti-stigma Research as keynote speaker. There will be a number of concurrent sessions related to stigma, diversity, and other cultural psychiatry topics in the morning and afternoon, including 4 sessions hosted by the SSPC. The day will conclude with a joint panel on stigma from multiple perspectives. You won’t want to miss this special day.

We also are looking forward to two additional days of symposia, free paper sessions, documentary films, and a poster session. Please follow the updated guidelines for preparing abstracts, which were mailed to most of you earlier in August and are available at our website and submit them before this year’s deadline of OCTOBER 8th.

Meeting registration will open on October 1. Forms will be posted at the SSPC website.

The winter edition of the newsletter will provide more details about the annual meeting program.

Best regards,

Book Your Hotel Now for the 2013 Annual Meeting

Room reservations are open at the Delta Chelsea Hotel for the 2013 meeting. A block of rooms on the Executive Floor is being held until March 31 at the guaranteed rate of $129.00 plus 13% tax ($145.77), single or double occupancy. Triple occupancy is just $149 (168.37) and 4 people costs $169 ($190.97). This rate will be in effect from April 30, 2013 until 3 days after the meeting for those who want to spend additional time in Toronto! The number of rooms is limited, so it is a good idea to reserve early.

To book your room from anywhere in North America call 1-800-268-1133. The reservation code is GDSSSPC13 and will not work on the website, so you must call to make your reservation.

Please remember that all attendees are responsible for their own expenses.

Education Committee Report

by Larry Merkel and Jim Griffith, co-chairs

We are working on several ideas for trainees this year:

a. Our case supervision session for trainees at the 2012 meeting in New York received very positive reviews. (See the resident’s review in this newsletter.) We are organizing a similar session for the 2013 meeting in Toronto.
b. A session for trainees on the history of cultural psychiatry is being considered
c. Also being discussed by the committee are:

1. An online discussion group, in the form of a listserv, blog, or forum.
2. A mentoring program where individual trainees would receive supervision by senior cultural psychiatrists.
3. An article for Psychiatry Annals, a special issue on cultural psychiatry to be co-sponsored by GW Dept. of Psychiatry and SSPC.
4. A presentation for a future APA meeting based in part on the SSPC case supervision presentations.
5. Working with Jim Griffith (who is a member of the PRITE Board) to improve the questions on cultural psychiatry, and the doctor-patient relationship.

Program Committee

by Roberto Lewis-Fernandez

The Program Committee is busy preparing for the annual meeting, planning conjointly with Hong Fook for the first day of the meeting and working on logistics. The themes of the four symposia sponsored by SSPC on the first day are: an update on DSM-V, a topic specifically requested by Hong Fook, psychotherapy and culture, research on stigma, and alternative and complimentary medicine as adjuncts to Western psychotherapy. A special symposium is being developed on military mental health for the 2013 conference. We are working with DOD psychologists and psychiatrists to identify a keynote speaker to overview the subject, plus a panel of experts presenting their work on stigma, trauma, suicide, brain injury, and women’s mental health issues.

Membership Committee Report

by Alpna Munshi

Our committee is excited to be leading the recruitment and retention of a diverse, interdisciplinary membership within SSPC. We have identified a set of priorities for the committee’s work over the next year:

a. connecting with professions and organizations with overlapping interests to develop a cultural psychiatry network
b. recruiting more early career psychiatrists and residents, as well as reaching out to longstanding members who have been active in the organization
c. dialoguing with our members about what SSPC can do for them and what they can do for SSPC
d. reaching out to existing socio-cultural psychiatry faculty in academic institutions
e. disseminating key benefits of SSPC membership in a new brochure We look forward to learning how our organization can meet your needs as a scholar, practitioner, and educator in the field of cross-cultural mental health, and to seeing you at our annual meeting. Please contact Alpna Munshi ( with your ideas.

Members of the SSPC Membership committee: Alpna Munshi (Chair), Francis Lu, Joe Westermeyer, Jaswant Guzder, Alan Teo, Sunday Ilechukwu, Brandon Kohrt, Bonnie Fullard, and Sasha Rai