December 10, 2020

Posted by:

At the end of this year I will step-down as President of IEPA and move into the role of Past President on the IEPA board. It has been a pleasure and an honour to be the President of IEPA over the last two years. It was a journey with some unexpected turns. This year was particularly challenging, we unfortunately had to cancel the conference planned in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for some months, thought the financial survival of IEPA was at risk. Thankfully, we were able to organise the conference IEPA12 Virtual: New Frontiers in Early Intervention as an online event.

The IEPA12 Virtual conference held last month was a great success with eleven excellent keynote speakers and over 720 attendees from all over the world. Holding the conference online enabled us to keep registration costs to a minimum and this resulted in a significant increase in participants from low and middle-income countries (LMICs), and for the first time we had attendees join us from Africa. Many conference delegates also generously donated registrations to support people to attend the conference. Through these donations a number of delegates from LMICs and people with lived experience who otherwise may have been unable to attend, were able to join us for the conference. I extend heartfelt thanks to all those who donated, along with our conference sponsors and supporters; Janssen, Fraser Health, Orygen and EPIP and all of you for helping us make the conference a success and ensure the financial stability of IEPA.

Over the last two years we increased our online presence and thanks to the support from Lundbeck we created several videos to educate about and promote early intervention on social media. We continued widening the focus of early intervention from psychosis to all youth mental ill-health, and we strengthened our links with the World Psychiatry Association to increase the reach of early intervention across the globe. With the help of Nev Jones we also continue working at increasing the emphasis of lived experience and family members experience at the core of our clinical and research work, with plans underway for advancing this strategy next year and beyond.

IEPA’s journey continues in the next two years with a new President: Eoin Killackey. Eoin is a Clinical Psychologist and Head of Functional Recovery Research in Youth Mental Health at Orygen and a Professor at The University of Melbourne. The support I have received from him, from the Board members and the management staff has been invaluable and I look forward to continuing working with them in my new role as Past President.

Finally, I cannot look back at the last two years without mentioning the Black Lives Matter movement and, together with IEPA, I remain committed to challenge racism and discrimination in my work and my private life.

Lucia Valmaggia, IEPA President.