The 22nd World Congress of the World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP 2016) was organized at Hotel the Ashok, New Delhi, India from 30th November to 4th December 2016. The theme of the congress was “Social Psychiatry in a Rapidly Changing World”. The Congress was organized by the Indian Association for Social Psychiatry (IASP), Department of Psychiatry & National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), AIIMS, New Delhi and the Department of Psychiatry, Govt Medical College & Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh. The Congress was sponsored by the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) and the Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS). Prof Tom KJ Craig was the Congress President, Prof Roy Abraham Kallivayalil was Chairperson, Scientific Committee, Prof Rakesh K Chadda was Chair, Scientific committee and Prof BS Chavan was the Organizing Secretary. The congress was attended by 1074 delegates from 49 countries, across all the five continents of the world.

The Congress was inaugurated by Justice Cyriac Joseph, Acting Chairman, National Human Rights Commission of India. In his inaugural address, Justice Joesph stressed upon the need of mental health services to be recognized as a basic human right and inclusion of psychiatry as an independent subject in undergraduate medical curriculum. Prof MC Misra, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi was Guest of Honour for the event. Prof RK Chadda, Chair, Organizing Committee welcomed the delegates. Prof Tom KJ Craig, Congress President, Prof Roy Abraham, Chair, Scientific Committee, Prof Rachid Bennegadi, Secretary General, WASP, Prof Dinesh Bhugra, President, WPA, Prof SK Khandelwal, President, IASP and Prof G Prasad Rao, President, IPS also addressed the gathering.  Prof BS Chavan presented the vote of thanks.

In his Presidential address, Prof. Tom Craig discussed about the current innovations in social psychiatry, effect of social issues such as poverty, homelessness, terrorism, discrimination on mental health. He also discussed about the issues related social exclusion of the mentally ill from the main society. He stressed upon the need for deinstitutionalization, increased social interaction and encouraging employment of persons with mental illness.  He emphasized on the challenges to social psychiatry.

There was also a theme symposium on “Social Psychiatry in a rapidly changing World”  with lectures by Prof. Rachid Bennegadi, Prof. T Sakuta and Prof. S.K. Khandelwal. The theme symposium was chaired by Prof. Tom Craig and Prof. Roy Abraham Kallivayalil. In the theme symposium the speakers stressed upon the various social factors affecting the mental health among which they discussed in detail about income inequality, poverty, social exclusion, homelessness and wars. They also made a special reference about the refugees and migrant situation in the world,  deinstitutionalization and the future of social psychiatry.

Scientific programme of the Congress included 15 plenary lectures, 77 symposiums, 13 workshops, 17 free paper sessions, 7 poster sessions, young psychiatrist fellowship and track programme and postgraduate quiz.

Scientific programme started at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi on 30th November, 2016 with a brief welcome session at the JLN Auditorium. Prof Balram Airan, Dean, AIIMS was the Chief Guest for the session. The programme included a series of workshops, parallel symposiums and young psychiatrist programme. Topics for workshops included cognitive behavior therapy made easy, traditional psychotherapy and spirituality, mind matters and media, and medico legal examination in psychiatry.  Some interesting symposiums included use of e-cigarettes, autism spectrum disorders with special reference to the challenges for the care givers, stress and perinatal mental health. The symposium on  suicide prevention focussed on youth suicide prevention program in India keeping in view the rise in the number of suicides in this vulnerable population.

Young Psychiatrist Programme also started on the day 1. The idea of organizing young psychiatrist program was to nurture and provide guidance to young and budding psychiatrists all over the world by leading experts in the field of mental health. There were two groups of participants, 10 young psychiatrist fellows, selected under the WASP young psychiatrist fellowship program and 22 young psychiatrists selected under Young Psychiatrist Track Award. Prof Chadda welcomed the group with a brief introduction to the Congress. Prof. Norman Sartorius and Prof. Driss Moussaoui conducted the programme, sharing their professional experiences. The programme  also included a session for free interaction with the coordinators. During the course of the Congress, a network by the name of “Global health Mentees and Mentors Network” was launched by Prof. Elliot Sorel with young psychiatrist track awardees. Prof Sorel also presented his book titled “21stCentury Global Mental Health” to all young psychiatrist track awardees.

The scientific sessions on 1st – 4th December took place at the Hotel the Ashok. Plenary sessions were held at the Convention Hall and the Banquet Hall, while 6 parallel sessions were organized in different halls.

Sessions on 1st December started with important symposium on the central importance of mental health of women and girls for the health of all. Other important topics covered included the human rights and mental health in perspective which focused on human rights and psychiatric services: Experience from LAMIC by Prof. D Moussaoui and in neglected areas of social psychiatry in early 21st century By Prof. Norman Sartorius. An overview of the WHO Development of the ICD-11 Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders was also presented. There were plenary lectures by Prof. Norman Sartorius and Prof. Stephen Scott in session on “The child is parent to the man”. where Prof. Sartorius presented the effects of globalization and demographic changes on child growth and development. He also highlighted the problems related to services in mental health for the youth. Prof. Stephen Scott talked about the antisocial behavior and conduct disorders in children and its management. In the evening, there was welcome dinner at India International Centre.

On Day 3, 2nd December 2016, there were two important symposiums on WASP itself, one  on   WASP for the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities and another on  history and future directions of WASP. Speakers for these two symposium included mainly Past Presidents of the WASP.   Another important aspect of the day was the topic of mental health services in disasters where some important symposia presentations from Japan and India were made.The plenary session 2 on this day was on Mental Health in Vulnerable Population   by Prof. Helen Herman and Prof. Mohan Isaac. There was another plenary session on “Global Mental Health: Transforming Scientific Evidence into Global Health Policy and  Making Mental Health Count for Individuals & Population health” by Prof. Eliot Sorel and “SMI: Care from Hospital to Community: Shifting to Community and Socially Inclusive Care of SMI-from Research to Action” by Prof. Jose MC de Almeida. WASP assembly was also held on 2nd December. The evening programme included dinner at poolside at AIIMS and a performance by army band.

On day 4 of congress there were scholarly plenary presentations by Prof Dinesh Bhugra, Prof. V.K.Varma Prof. Driss Moussaoui and Prof. Laurence Kirmayer. There was an excellent video presentation by Prof. Julian Leff of his lifetime work on schizophrenia. Prof Leff was also presented Yves Pelicier prize by Prof. Tom Craig and Prof. Roy Abraham Kallivayalil. Another important attraction of the day was a quiz for postgraduate students. There were also a series of symposiums, free paper and poster sessions, which were well attended. In the evening, there was dinner at India Habitat Centre.

The Day 5 of the Congress also had some important symposiums on the development of the Road Map for the Social Psychiatry in the 21st Century in South Asia. The Address by the Incoming President of WASP Prof. Roy Abraham Kallivayalil focused on various challenges for Social Psychiatry in the 21st Century. He laid particular emphasis on the distinct features of the Social Psychiatry, Strategies to improve the public mental health, Need for legislation, Social Determinants of Mental Health and the need for research. He also briefly talked about the goals of WASP. The session was chaired by Prof. Tom Craig. Plenary lectures by Prof. R.S Murthy and Prof Vikram Patel touched on the contemporary themes and were well appreciated.

The valedictory session at 1.30 PM was attended by more than 500 delegates with many delegates further testimony of the grand success of the Congress. Prof Tom Craig handed over the President medallion to the incoming President Professor Roy Abraham Kalliavayalil during the valedictory and change of President Office took place. Prof Rachid Bennegadi took over as President Elect and Prof Fernando Lolas took over as the new Secretary General.  Dr KK Agarwal, President Elect, Indian Medical Association was the chief guest for the session.

Organizing Secertary
Prof R K Chadda
Professor & Head
Department of Psychiatry, and
Chief, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre
AIIMS, New Delhi, India