March 10, 2022

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By Paul French

In 2017 IEPA began discussions with the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) looking at how early intervention can be more prominently promoted within their membership and possible opportunities for collaboration and jointly organised events. IEPA Board Member Paul French provides an overview of how this relationship developed and outlines some exciting upcoming events that have resulted from this collaboration.


At the 2017 World Congress of Psychiatry in Berlin, Professor Afzal Javed was appointed to the role of President-Elect for the World Psychiatric Association (WPA).  In 2020 he assumed the role of President and launched the 2020-2023 Action Plan.

Some of the key points in this action plan are highlighted below

  1. Promote implementation of effective interventions to detect and treat mental disorder at an early stage in childhood and adolescence given most lifetime mental disorder arises before adulthood
  2. Implement effective interventions to treat and prevent child/parental mental disorder during pregnancy and the perinatal period
  3. Implement effective parenting interventions which both treat behavioural disorders, prevent mental disorder and promote child/parental wellbeing
  4. Implement effective pre-school and school-based interventions to treat mental disorder early, prevent mental disorder and promote mental wellbeing
  5. Promote early detection for psychosis and developing crisis intervention centres for adolescents
  6. Workplace screening for early detection of mental disorder among the young workers and promoting wellbeing in the workplace
  7. Conduct a series of educational multidisciplinary programmes highlighting the challenges and opportunities for digital child and adolescent psychiatry services

These areas of focus clearly resonate strongly with the aims of the IEPA.

Due to this obvious connection between the key aims of the two organisations and an opportunistic meeting where I was present with Professor Javed, we discussed the potential of developing collaborative projects. Although some of the impetus was unfortunately lost due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to look for opportunities where we could work on joint projects.

An exciting opportunity arose when we were approached by Prof Nikos Stefanis who has been working to develop early intervention in Greece. He has worked with the WPA to organise a Congress to be held in Athens in June 2022. This Thematic Congress on early intervention across the lifespan is a way of not only celebrating the development of early intervention in Greece but also a mechanism for providing education and support for the new service developments that will be emerging in Greece over the coming months and years. The IEPA has the opportunity to work alongside the WPA to help shape the meeting. This has meant that the meeting will not only be held under the auspices of the IEPA but we also have an invited symposium at the congress and crucially were also able to develop a program of pre-congress workshops to be held as part of the meeting. The workshops will include sessions from Marieke Begemann, and IEPA board members Kate Hardy, Juliana Onwumere and Philippe Conus.

The ongoing relationship has great benefits for both organisations and means that the strengths and reach of both can be leveraged to ensure the important messages associated with early intervention approaches can be widely disseminated.

It is important to thank the support of both Professors Javed and Killackey respective presidents of WPA and IEPA who have nurtured and supported this development. We hope that the meeting in June will be the first of many such jointly supported meetings and that we can harness the networks in both organisations to deliver on our agenda. It will also certainly enable us within the IEPA to widen our reach and communicate with an international audience of psychiatrists, a group who professionally are a small part of the membership despite being well represented at the Executive Group.

We welcome this exciting opportunity to collaborate with the WPA and will look to develop this relationship over the coming years.

If you would like to find out more or register to attend the congress or any of the pre-congress workshops please visit the website or view the workshop information


Paul French is an IEPA Board Member and clinical academic based at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester England, and Manchester Metropolitan University. He has been involved with the development of research and clinical services in early intervention in psychosis for a number of years. This has included extensive research in the area of emerging psychosis and At Risk Mental States and the development of treatment strategies to support these individuals, more latterly looking at family based interventions for this group. He has published widely on CBT for psychosis including treatment manuals for this approach.  He has always been keen to work across research and policy to ensure rapid translation of emerging research into clinical practice.

He has supported the development of clinical services, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. He was a member of the Expert Reference Group that established the Access and Waiting Times Standard for EIP in England where people with an emerging psychosis are seen be EIP teams within 2 weeks and subsequently offer the wide range of interventions recommended in the NICE guidelines. He continues to provide clinical leadership nationally in this area in order to support the uptake of these standards as joint National Clinical Advisor within the Royal College of Psychiatry for the EIP National Clinical Audit of Psychosis.



You can follow Paul on Twitter @pfrench123