December 20, 2021
I hope that despite the challenges caused by the pandemic that this year has been a good one for you in your personal and professional lives. Certainly, for IEPA it has been a year of responding and adapting to the challenges presented by the pandemic. A number of highlights stand out. These include our second virtual conference which not only had a range of great keynote speakers, but also allowed for symposia in which were discussed a variety of important topics to do with early intervention in mental health. During the year we also conducted our first virtual workshops one on CBTp led by world experts Kate Hardy and Paul French, and a second on Supporting Meaningful Lived Experience Involvement in Early Intervention in Psychosis Research coordinated by Nev Jones and facilitated by Ying Ying Lee and Veenu Gupta. These workshops were very well received, and we will be looking at how we can provide more of these experiences for our members.
So there have been many many good things this year. However, I have also to report some deeply unhappy news which is that owing to the continuing uncertainty created by the pandemic the IEPA board has recently and unanimously decided that we must cancel the planned conference in Singapore next year. This is deeply disappointing to myself, to the board and no doubt to you. We came to this decision due to a number of reasons including, restrictions on numbers in conference venues, as well as restrictions on some countries travel into Singapore, as well as feedback from many members that their employing institutions were not allowing work related international travel. While many of these factors may change, they also may not and in the meantime we would have to continue to spend money. There was no certainty that holding the conference would leave the association in a financial position that would allow us to continue to operate. In delivering this sad news I want to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the Local Organising Committee led by Dr Swapna Verma and the work of the Scientific Committee led by Dr Jean Addington. We have not yet determined what our path forward from here is. I hope to have some news about this in the new year.
One part of this role that I did not fully appreciate before I started is the privilege it affords of learning about what so many people are doing in so many places to advance early intervention. One example of this was the symposium at the virtual conference that featured speakers from Chile, South Korea, Greece and Tunisia discussing the establishment of early intervention services in their contexts. It highlighted those things which are common in our challenge to implement early intervention approaches, but also underscored the necessity to understand and work with the local context in order to be successful. It has been a strange year in difficult times but the way we as a community of researchers, clinicians, people with lived and loved experience and others invested in early intervention in mental health have continued our mission inspires me and I hope encourages you to continue your work.
Thank you for your support and interest in IEPA and I wish you all a good end to this year and a better 2022
President, IEPA Early Intervention in Mental Health