Latin America gets together for Early Intervention

By Drs. Ary Gadelha, Graccielle Cunha and Rodrigo Bressan.

The first Latin-American symposium focusing on early intervention and prevention in psychiatry was held on September 22nd and 23rd, 2017. Hosted in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the symposium was the largest such event ever held in Latin America, with over 300 attendees participating in a series of oral presentations and round-table discussions over the two days. The following is a recap of the event.

Day one commenced with the presentation of the PROESQ Award to congresswoman Mara Gabrilli, member of the Brazilian National

Parliament, for her invaluable contribution to raising awareness about mental health and reducing stigma through targeted legislation. Dr Lucia Valmaggia was also awarded a PROESQ Award acknowledging her outstanding contribution to psychosis research and clinical care.

Members of the local government expressed their support for early intervention of mental health in Brazil, while national and international speakers gave an overview of innovative approaches to prevention and intervention, aimed at helping young people experiencing early signs of mental health conditions.

The highlight of the symposium was the attendance and participation of people with lived experience of psychosis who described the personal journey that can lead others to recovery. The Grupo Mãos de Mães gave an inspiring presentation regarding the power of using peer groups to help family members of those who experience psychosis. Science, care and humanism together touched the hearts of all who attended.

The attendance of experts from other Latin American countries stimulated an interesting discussion around building support for early intervention across the region, strengthening the plans for the Latin American Network for Early Psychosis.

Overall the event was a success, fostering discussion around prevention and early intervention of mental health conditions in Brazil and Latin-America more broadly.  It was agreed to build on this success, with plans for the symposium to become an annual event.

We believe that these events will increase Latin-American interest in early intervention building up to the IEPA 12 Early Intervention in Mental Health conference to be held in Brazil in 2020.

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