World Social Psychiatry

: 2021  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 230--233

Early Career Psychiatry Section – World Association of Social Psychiatry – History and Future Directions

Arun Enara1, Debanjan Banerjee2, Adarsh Tripathi3,  
1 Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom; Consultant Geriatric Psychiatrist, Kolkata, India
2 King George's Medical College and University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Consultant Geriatric Psychiatrist, Kolkata; Department of Psychiatry, King George's Medical College and University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Arun Enara
Specialist Registrar, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, London


Early Career Psychiatry (ECP) sections have had a considerable impact on the way psychiatric associations function around the world. Early inclusion and participation of young professionals in an association's activities often is beneficial to both the participants and objective of the Association. The World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP) has incorporated activities for early career psychiatrists uring many of its Congresses right from the early days. This article will look at the evolution of the ECP section of the WASP, its vision, the activities, and the need for a potential shift in the way early career organizations function around the world. It also highlights the WASP-ECP section program held in the recent WASP Asia Pacific Hybrid Congress 2021.

How to cite this article:
Enara A, Banerjee D, Tripathi A. Early Career Psychiatry Section – World Association of Social Psychiatry – History and Future Directions.World Soc Psychiatry 2021;3:230-233

How to cite this URL:
Enara A, Banerjee D, Tripathi A. Early Career Psychiatry Section – World Association of Social Psychiatry – History and Future Directions. World Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 May 29 ];3:230-233
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The World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP) Global Mental Health Mentees' and Mentors' Network (GMHMMN) was launched at the XXII World Congress of Social Psychiatry in New Delhi, India, on December 2, 2016, jointly by Professor Eliot Sorel and Professor Roy Abraham Kallivayalil. GMHMMN functioned as a transdisciplinary, catalytic hub for innovation acceleration in research, services, education, and policy in global mental health. GMHMMN has established a transcultural international mentor–mentee network with an aim to enhance mutual collaboration/learning and innovation in global mental health. Subsequently, WASP President Prof Kallivayalil had appointed an ad hoc committee for early career psychiatrists and GMHMMN with Dr. Arun Enara (Chair) and Dr. Adarsh Tripathi (Co-chair) who had taken up the task of setting up an early career organization for WASP.

The GMHMMN was open to young people in training, early career mentees, as well as mid-career and senior mentors across the health professions spectrum. It was also open to public, private sectors, academic and nonacademic, nongovernmental organizations. It was envisioned to become an innovation accelerator platform and leadership development incubator. The main purpose of the network was to provide a multitude of opportunities in regard to mentorship and networking for early career psychiatrists.

GMHMMN made its scientific debut at the World Congress of Psychiatry in Berlin in October 2017.[1] Professor Eliot Sorel chaired the inaugural workshop. The workshop was presented by three groups of early career physicians from three different parts of the world, namely India, Romania, and the USA. Dr. Adarsh Tripathi and Dr. Arun Enara from India spoke on the topic “The Start Up of Global Mental Health Mentors and Mentees Network” and appraised the history, its mission, and vision as well as progress. Dr. Christina Secarea and Dr. Madeline Teisberg from the USA discussed on the topic of “Healing the Healers: How to address physician burnout?” Dr. Irina Radu, a family practice physician from Romania, presented about opportunities of transdisciplinary collaboration among young professionals. She spoke on the topic “Innovation in Postgraduate Education: An Integrative Model across Disciplines.”

The GMHMMN also undertook the Global Integrated Care Survey under the aegis of the Council on International Psychiatry of the American Psychiatric Association after its inception. The survey was successfully completed in September 2017. A GMHMMN LinkedIn group was established with the aim to serve as the network's communications platform to supplement direct contacts via e-mail.

The GMHMMN later went on to become the WASP Early Career Psychiatry (WASP ECP) section and the section organized its first early career psychiatrist program at the WASP World Congress, Bucharest, in October 2019.

 World Congress of Social Psychiatry, Bucharest

The 23rd WASP World Congress was held in Bucharest from October 25 to 28, 2019. Professor Kallivayalil, President, WASP, along with the executive committee of WASP helped organize a separate ECP program for the congress. The WASP was able to give 30 fellowships for early career psychiatrists from around the globe. The executive committee of the WASP appointed Professor Normal Sartorius as the chief mentor for the ECP Program and Dr. Arun Enara was appointed as the convenor of the ECP Program. The ECP Program included three “Meet the Expert” sessions. The experts in these sessions were Professor Norman Sartorius, Professor Mohan Issac, Professor Tsutomu Sakuta, Professor Helen Killaspy, and Dr Afzal Javed who interacted with the ECP fellows and shared their professional journey.

There was also a 2-h master class on the topic, “Climate deterioration and the epidemic of violence: Can social psychiatry help to cope with them?” chaired by Professor Norman Sartorius and Professor Eliot Sorel.[2] The fellowship winners were asked to draft a brief essay on the topic which was summarised by representatives at the session. Most of the participants felt that there was a strong relationship between climate change and mental health issues and backed it up with evidence. Since the evidence/epidemiological statistics on the prevalence of behaviors associated with terrorism and its relationship with mental disorders in the general population were unavailable, the essays from early career psychiatrists echoed on the impact of violence arising in the interpersonal context and its impact on mental health. Although the majority of the group felt that there was a role for psychiatrists in tackling climate change and global violence, there were a few who felt that taking up social activism has the potential to blur professional boundaries and reminded the need to exercise caution while taking up such roles. Many early career psychiatrists were also of the opinion that the role should be left to an individual's interest and that the responsibility of a psychiatrist was no greater than any other citizen of the world. The session generated interesting discussions among the group and offered insights into the potential future work that interested early career psychiatrists could take up.

The ECP section of the WASP also conducted the first executive committee meeting at the congress. The executive committee also met with the winners of the fellowship and discussed the future directions of the ECP section.

 World Association of Social Psychiatry Asia Pacific Hybrid Congress 2021

The WASP Asia Pacific Hybrid Congress 2021 was jointly organized by the Department of Psychiatry and the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, from September 16 to 18, 2021. Although meant to be a regional event, it was attended by 714 delegates from 30 nations. Amid the ongoing COVID pandemic, the Congress was indeed timely and relevant. In the inaugural session, international and national dignitaries highlighted the role of “various social factors on the psychosocial development as well as genesis and manifestation of mental health”. The Congress was aptly themed on “Innovations in social psychiatry.”[3]

The WASP ECP section hosted its special program to kick start the Congress on 16th September 2021. In line with the theme, the program was outlined on “innovations” that were meant to help ECPs in their journey. Arun Enara (Chair, ECP), Debanjan Banerjee, Adarsh Tripathi, and Guru S Gowda were the organizers who had brainstormed the sessions for months together under the able guidance of the WASP organizing committee dignitaries.

The program consisted on three separate sessions. As an initiation, Arun Enara addressed the audience about the mission and vision of the WASP ECP section (detailed later), the membership specifics, and welcomed global membership from ECPs as well as allied mental health professionals. He also cautioned that this section should not lose its identity being another “generic early career association” just in name, but should look to work in a multidisciplinary framework based on the social determinants of mental health, enabling education, research, and training in social psychiatry. Battling ageism, ableism, racism, and sexism will be on the forefront to establish inclusion, rights, and dignity among its participants.

The second session was a first-of-its-kind initiative by the WASP-ECP section. An online competition was held for the early career mental health professionals titled “Tweet and Trend”. It was based on a vital premise of social psychiatry which involves pedagogy, need for public engagement, and constructive use of social media for mental health promotion.[4] Participants were encouraged to send a thread of five connected tweets (limited to 140 characters) on the theme, “Relevance of biopsychosocial model in contemporary psychiatry.” The goal was to convey the message via social media with quality and brevity while focusing on content. The entries were independently assessed by three judges and the two winners (Aishwariya Jha from NIMHANS, Bangalore, and Chinar Kapur, Head Psychologist, Press Unstress), were invited to deliver a blitz talk on the topic “Effective communication strategies on social media for Early Career Professionals. The second session consisted of these two talks. While Jha brought in the need to incorporate biopsychosocial model in daily psychiatric practice as well as in the early years of residency and training, she also wanted to extend the model to involve cultural and ecological factors. As a final-year MD psychiatry resident, she expressed how each person living with mental illness and their “story” were a chapter in themselves to understand the relevance of social factors in mental health, especially adverse childhood experiences, violence, poverty, and mental health inequality. Kapur, on the other hand stressed, upon the role of social media in preventive mental health approaches. As a clinical psychologist, she actively uses Twitter and Facebook to improve knowledge, attitude, and practice related to mental well-being among the masses. In her experience, social media is a “dual-edged sword” but has an immense potential to snowball psychoeducation. She ended by calling upon an active collaboration between mental health professionals and the media colleagues.

On the World Mental Health Day 2021, the World Federation for Mental Health has set the theme as “Mental Health in an unequal world”.[5] Inequalities will be sustained as long as “voices” from the other side of the table are invisible. Lived experience research has gained rapid momentum in recent years and is considered to be a constructive resource for recovery, peer support, person-centered care, and resilience building.[6],[7] With a paradigm shift of mental health care from a categorical to rights-based perspective, the relevance of lived experiences is imperative. This was the background of the third ECP session, titled “Reflecting narratives: A lived dialogue”. This session brought in two different angles: someone who has worked and established a suicide prevention helpline and an individual who has lived through a chronic mental health condition. The session was moderated by Debanjan Banerjee (on behalf of the WASP-ECP) with Yeshim Iqbal and Tanmoy Goswami as the panelists. While Iqbal was the Founder and Director of Kaan Pete Roi (the first emotional support and suicide prevention helpline in Bangladesh), Goswami was the founder editor, Sanity by Tanmoy and a journalist by profession.

Banerjee started the session by stating the role of lived experiences in providing a firsthand commonsensical approach and understanding to navigate the distress associated with mental health challenges. Iqbal spoke about her journey working with the helpline from initial challenges of resource, training, and stigma to finally establishing a 24-h round-the-clock service which took years. She stressed on the need for local resources and grassroot level workers who can be trained in mental health first aid and suicide prevention. This is vital for the South Asian countries which have unique cultural and ethnic influences on mental health and limited specialists. The need to involve the policy-makers and a multidisciplinary teamwork are the keys to suicide prevention helpline in any nation, based on her experience of working as a mental health professional both in the US and Bangladesh.

Goswami favored the term “sanity” as it corresponds with mental well-being and mental hygiene rather than the “disorder-based” understanding of mental health. His understanding as a survivor of mental illness has enabled him to look at it through the lens of dignity, autonomy, and inclusion, rather than a “person with symptoms.” He expected empathy, compassion, and consideration for his family and professional environment when he sought mental health care for years. Being a journalist, he was optimistic about a healthy dialogue between media and mental health personnel for humane suicide reporting, suicide prevention, and mental health promotion. His message for the media was, “Sensitize others but don't sensationalize mental health related issues.”

Both the panelists agreed upon the fact that as a mental health professional embarks on the early paths of their journey, collaboration with allied professionals, open-mindedness, and a person-centered approach are the keys to ensuring quality mental health care.

The organizing committee chairman Professor Rakesh Chadda, Organising Committee Secretary Professor Mamta Sood, WASP Immediate Past President Professor Roy Abraham Kallivayalil, and ECP Section Chairman Dr. Arun Enara met with the 20 fellowship winners from around the world during a 1 h session on the last day of the conference. The fellowship award winners shared their work and future aspirations in social psychiatry and stressed on the relevance of a person-centered approach in psychiatry. The fellowship winners also expressed their gratitude for the support received from the conference organizing committee.

The WASP-ECP session was well received by the organizers and audience alike. It ended by thanking the WASP scientific committee for their guidance and support, with a promise to continue future endeavors in the same line.

 Vision of the World Association of Social Psychiatry Early Career Psychiatry Section

The ECP section bye laws were finalized by the ECP executive committee after multiple meetings held after the WASP Bucharest world congress. The visions for which the section is organised are (a) to promote the professional interests of its members in Social Psychiatry; (b) to improve the treatment, rehabilitation, and care of persons with mental disorders (including mental retardation and substance-related disorders); (c) to focus on innovation in research, services, education, and policy and to foster brief research projects among early career psychiatrists; (d) to foster the cooperation and collaborative work of early career psychiatrists interested in social psychiatry; (e) to safeguard the interest of early career psychiatrists across the world; (f) to create opportunities for early career psychiatrists to attend the conferences organised by WASP; (g) encourage conferences to have representation of early career psychiatrists and sessions specific for early career psychiatrist; (h) to facilitate opportunities for mentoring; and (i) to create partnerships with professionals of other scientific disciplines, international agencies, and NGOs working in fields related to social psychiatry.

 World Association of Social Psychiatry Early Career Psychiatry Section – Aspirations and Future Directions

The ECP section of the WASP stands to ensure diversity and true global participation in its activities. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed multiple health and social inequalities. In many academic circles, there are movements garnering momentum, questioning the supremacy of the Eurocentric policies and the White curriculums.[8],[9] This would also raise questions on the way global mental health movement has functioned, often being reduced to a unidirectional learning, largely from the West to the East. Often, the colonial attitudes and the divide and rule policies of the global West percolate into the way associations continue to function around the world. A recent report by the Global Health 50/50 showed that 85% of global organizations working in health have headquarters in Europe and North America, with two-third being headquartered in Switzerland, the UK, and the USA.[10] More than 80% of global health leaders are nationals of high-income countries, and half are nationals of the UK and the USA. The pandemic has exposed the lie that expertise is concentrated in, or at least best channeled by legacy powers and historically rich states.[11] The power asymmetry in global health is beautifully and satirically summarised in an article by Okeke.[12] The ECP section of the WASP would aspire to function in a way understanding this power asymmetry.

Decolonizing global health is another important development. The movement and narratives show the lack of diversity in global health organizations and the asymmetry of power that is all pervasive in global health. To quote the author in a seminal article, “If high income country institutions attempt to work on decolonising global health, they must make sure such work is led by black, indigenous and people of colour and Global South actors, while white and high income country actors take on the role of humble learners and allies. We also need to be clear that decolonising global health is an impossible goal without fundamentally changing the structures within which global health currently operates. In that sense, looking at the way the Covid-19 pandemic is unfolding now, decolonising global health looks impossible. We have seen how HICs have cleared out the shelves to buy and hoard vaccines, failed to act on TRIPS waiver, and refused to share vaccines and technology.”[13]

The WASP ECP section will attempt to challenge these fallacies in global health. The section would work to ensure that issues around racism and culture are bought to the forefront. We would also want to bring in the focus on narratives around lived experiences. The task ahead is a challenge. As challenging as it is, there is no better opportunity and time to rebuild and bring back the focus on social psychiatry than now.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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