Forging friendships across boundaries – the Cebu experience
Dr Cyrus Ho
Singapore Psychiatric Association
I was very honored and privileged to be given the opportunity by our Singapore Psychiatric Association (SPA) to attend the ASEAN Federation for Psychiatry and Mental Health (AFPMH) Young Psychiatrists Fellowship Course on the Development of Leadership and Professional Skills on 11th – 12th November 2014 in Cebu City, Philippines, in conjunction with the 14th Congress of the AFPMH.
This course was conducted by a committee of esteemed psychiatrists led by Professor Norman Sartorius, Professor Mohan Issac, Dr Erminia Colucci and Dr Dinah Nadera, with the objectives of bringing together young psychiatrists from the ASEAN region, training them with the essential skills to facilitate their professional development and establishing an ASEAN network of young psychiatrists to facilitate future collaborative work for the betterment of mental health wellness. A total of 18 delegates from 10 different countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) attended the course.
The 2-day intensive course covered many pertinent areas of professional and leadership skill development that included:
• How to give an effective lecture/seminar
• Making a comprehensive research poster
• What it takes to be a well-rounded psychiatrist in the areas of clinical work, research and education
• How to handle the media
• Assessing the mental health care needs of one’s population and on a global perspective
• Setting and assessing one’s priorities
What I found especially heartening and rewarding were the perspectives and insights shared among delegates and trainers based on their unique background, which made me reflect on my own training and views on core mental health issues. During the course, we also got to understand about the Philippines Psychiatric Association (PPA)’s struggle in drafting its first-ever mental health bill in an effort to address the growing mental health concerns in the country. This demonstration by PPA made me realize that mental health wellness is not a given. Rather, this is what we need to constantly advocate and fight for.
There are many important gifts that I have taken away from this short course that will serve me well in the years to come: cultures of the beautiful Philippines and its big-hearted people, knowledge and skills of being a good psychiatrist, the ever burning desire to be an advocate for our people towards a better mental health and the many new friendships that have been forged during the course. And yes, we are still communicating over Facebook and emails…
I thank the SPA once again for this memorable experience and I look forward to being able to contribute to the psychiatric cause in the local and international arena.