Message from EPA President Peter Falkai
27 May 2021 – Dear colleagues,
For less than 100 days I have had the privilege of being the President of the EPA. Thank you for your ongoing support in allowing me to serve in this position.
Congress 2021: We have just finished our 2021 congress under the motto “Personalising and integrating mental health care in the digital era” and I was positively surprised by the significant increase of possibilities for interaction in these virtual times. In 2020 we mostly listened to pre-recorded speakers in the symposia, debates, or plenaries, but in 2021 we were able to listen to them live and even discuss with presenters via chat or video conferencing. In addition, EPA TV helped delegates follow the topics of the day and discuss different issues in a lively and inspiring fashion. These interactive advances were made possible by Past President Philip Gorwood and his team, in close interaction with Kenes International, our congress organiser.
Long-term Plan and beyond: Under Philip Gorwood’s leadership and with the involvement of myself, other EPA leaders, and the EPA Office, the EPA initiated a Long-Term Plan (LTP), which currently encompasses the core topics of the EPA’s objectives through 2030 and beyond. We will use it during my mandate to define the main areas of commitment, but we’ll also add new, burning questions and of course take steps to already achieve some of the laid-out goals.
I have taken the privilege to select 5 topics of the LTP on which I want to focus during my mandate:
- Mapping scientific excellence and building up a network for utility research: Building on the work of the “Mapping Task Force”, we plan to create a European map of centres where research on mental disease is performed. That will not only include universities, but all other centres where significant research efforts are being undertaken. Information gathered will include research topics, the researchers carrying out the work, and the methods available to perform it. This map should be used to initiate EPA studies on utility research, for example starting with a small-scale study to determine the legal capacity for routine clinical care.
- Developing a core guideline for the treatment of schizophrenia: More than 20 guidelines on the treatment of schizophrenia have been published internationally and several of them in Europe. They usually agree on core recommendations, but these are often not clearly outlined, and the corresponding literature is not regularly updated. Our goal is to create a “core guideline on the treatment of schizophrenia”, with NPA involvement and agreement, to be transformed into a “living guideline” whose underlying evidence is updated on a yearly basis.
- Learning from the Covid-19 pandemic – digitalisation for psychiatry: The Covid-19 pandemic has helped us develop and distribute digital tools to improve care in people with mental disorders. The aim here is not to lose this momentum and to define what is needed to maintain these standards in care in the years to come.
- Sharpening clinical diagnosis in psychiatry: Diagnosis in psychiatry relies on our clinical skills and tools, including the diagnostic criteria we use. Changing to the ICD-11 is a move that stresses the possibilities that can arise from providing a valid and proven diagnosis. Before we rely on (bio)markers, which we do not yet have, we should stress and understand that our clinical diagnosis is as good as any clinical diagnosis in medicine.
- An incubator for the future: It is important to manage our daily routines successfully, however often don’t have the time or resources to make room for future thoughts and dreams. The incubator should create space to think about the future of European psychiatry beyond 2030. New ways of thinking and acting will be included in this approach to reach significant progress.
Thank you for reading all of this. Before ending my message to you I want to draw your attention to the upcoming EPA congress in Budapest 2022. Its motto “Linking Clinical Practice and Research for Better Mental Health Care in Europe”, mirrors the wish that research should drive innovation in care, but care, in return, should provide innovative ideas to research.
With this thought, I would like to finish up by thanking you for your support and wishing you a healthy and peaceful summer.