The VIII National Congress of Indonesian Psychiatric Association and the 15th ASEAN Federation of Psychiatry and Mental Health Congress was held from the 25th to 27th August 2016 at Semarang, Indonesia and I was privileged to attend the meeting in the capacity of the Vice President of the Singapore Psychiatric Association. The meeting was organized by PERHIMPUNAN DOKTER SPESIALIS KEDOKTERAN JIWA INDONESIA and ASEAN Federation for Psychiatry and Mental Health (AFPMH). The theme for the meeting was “New Challenges in Psychiatric Care in ASEAN Economic Community” and was chosen to meet the learning, networking and latest needs of regional psychiatric services.
Dr. DanardiSosrosumihardjo, Sp.KJ(K), the President of Indonesian Psychiatric Association and the President of AFMPH welcomed the delegates from ASEAN countries to the meeting on the first day with an elaborate ceremony consisting of Indonesian dance and music.There were different tracks in the program to meet the needs of the participants. Examples of the tracks included Alcohol and Substance Abuse Disorder, Biological Psychiatry, Community Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry etc.
I was invited to give a sharing on Singapore’s approach in reducing the treatment gap of mental disorders. Delegates from Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia also share their countries’ endeavors in addressing this issue. Some of the common themes echoed from them werethe difficulties in translating a lot of their governments’ healthcare policies due to the size of their country, the geographical barriers and the level of literacy. Singapore was privileged in comparison as we do not face such difficulties but there was still more work to be done to improve mental health awareness.
The meeting provided an excellent platform in getting to know the leaders in the ASEAN Psychiatric community as well as create more awareness for the need to do more for mental health. The meeting ended with the formal passing of the host country from Indonesia to the Philippines for the 16th ASEAN Federation of Psychiatry and Mental Health Congress.