April 29, 2024

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By Pablo Gaspar Ramos and Rocío Mayol Troncoso

Early Intervention in Risk of Psychosis: Therapeutic skills for Latin America,
Held before IEPA14 in Lausanne July 2023


Violence, social and economic inequality, addictions, and political and economic instability are particularly prevalent risk factors for psychosis in Latin America (Kohn et al., 2005; Pan American Health Organization, 2013). Although the availability of services may vary by country and region, over the past decade, there has been an increasing implementation of specialized programs offering assessment, treatment, and comprehensive support to individuals in the early stages of the illness (Aceituno et al., 2021).

To raise awareness about this reality and provide evidence-based information, the Course on Early Intervention in Psychosis Risk: Therapeutic Skills for Central and South America (CSA) was organized and held on the day before IEPA14 the 14th International Conference on Early Intervention in Mental Health. During this course, which was delivered entirely in Spanish, fundamental topics such as challenges in early intervention in psychosis and high-risk mental states were addressed, with the participation of distinguished international speakers from Chile, Brazil, and Spain. The format was hybrid, with approximately 200 attendees attending both in person and online.This significant participation reflects the global interest in receiving therapeutic tools in early intervention and highlights the relevance of establishing collaborative links among countries in the region and globally.

One of the most inspiring aspects of the course was the opportunity to connect with Spanish speaking mental health professionals from different countries (such as Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Spain), all united by a common goal: to improve the quality of life of people experiencing psychosis. The diversity of perspectives and experiences enriched every discussion and learning session, demonstrating the power of global collaboration in mental health. Informal conversations during breaks and shared dinners provided an invaluable space for exchanging ideas and learning from each other, highlighting the importance of community in seeking innovative solutions to mental health care challenges.

The implementation of continuing education courses facilitates the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and specific resources from each community, contributing to a deeper understanding of the particular challenges faced by individuals with psychosis in specific sociocultural contexts. These events promote the importance of recognizing and understanding the diversity of experiences and cultural perspectives that influence the manifestation, diagnosis, and treatment of psychotic disorders.

In summary, our experience as organizers of the event in Lausanne was truly transformative. From connecting with international colleagues to immersing ourselves in the latest advances in early intervention, this experience has strengthened our commitment to mental health and inspired us to work even harder to provide high-quality care to those most in need in Chile. Furthermore, the gathering demonstrated the importance of creating a Spanish-speaking branch in the IEPA, to help address the cultural and systemic barriers that mental health professionals in Spanish-speaking countries face. Now approved by the IEPA board this branch will foster collaboration and knowledge exchange among Spanish-speaking professionals worldwide. It will also facilitate the development of support networks and collaboration in research and clinical projects. It is hoped that the creation fo this network will lead to which in turn can lead to significant advances in the field of early intervention in psychosis both in Spanish speaking countries and beyond.

The creation of a Spanish-speaking branch in the IEPA is a crucial step in ensuring that mental health professionals have access to resources and professional development opportunities.

By promoting linguistic and cultural diversity, IEPA will play an important role in promoting equity and excellence in mental health care worldwide. With this spirit, this branch has already had its first online meeting, and we invite those who want to be part of it to write to Pablo Gaspar pagaspar@uchile.cl and Rocío Mayol Troncoso rociomayolt@uchile.cl.

You can follow Pablo on Twitter @pgasparr or LinkedIn

You can follow Dr. Rocio Mayol on LinkedIn and Instagram @cientificamente_mujeres @psiquislab


Pablo A. Gaspar is director of the University Psychiatric Clinic (UPC), University of Chile and founder of the Chilean Network of early detection and intervention in mental health (Red-EMAR-Chile). He acts as an associate researcher of the renowned research Centre, “Millennium Nucleus to improve mental health in adolescents and youths (IMHAY)” and Principal Investigator Chilean site of the PRESCIENT project funded by the NIMH. His line of research is early detection and intervention in psychosis and their biological risk factors. He is a well-recognized expert in the field in Chile. Currently, he is IEPA’s Vice President South and Central America and member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Latin American initiative task force.

Dr. Rocío Mayol, PhD is a clinical psychologist expert in psychosis. Dr. Mayol is affiliated with the Faculty of Psychology of the Alberto Hurtado University and and is director of the Translational Psychiatry laboratory at UPC (Psiquislab). She acts as a young researcher of the ¨millennium nucleus for Improving the Mental Health of Adolescents and Youth ¨(IMHAY). She has a scholarship as principal investigator of the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (Fondecyt). Dr. Mayol’s line of research is the early stages of psychotic disorders, and she is also interested in the development of early psychotherapeutic interventions of severe mental illnesses.



Kohn, R., Levav, I., de Almeida, J. M. C., Vicente, B., Andrade, L., Caraveo-Anduaga, J. J., … Saraceno, B. (2005). Mental disorders in Latin America and the Caribbean: A public health priority. Revista Panamericana de Salud Publica = Pan American Journal of Public Health, 18(4–5), 229–240. https://doi.org/10.1590/s1020-49892005000900002

Pan American Health Organization. (2013). WHO-AIMS regional report on mental health Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, DC: PAHO.

Aceituno D, Mena C, Vera N, Gonzalez-Valderrama A, Gadelha A, Diniz E, Crossley N, Pennington M, Prina M. Implementation of early psychosis services in Latin America: A scoping review. Early Interv Psychiatry. 2021 Oct;15(5):1104-1114. doi: 10.1111/eip.13060. Epub 2020 Oct 13. PMID: 33047889.