WPA Update: May 2019

WPA Update: May 2019

In September 2018, I attended the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Annual Congress in Mexico City for the first time in my role as global Zone 1 Representative to the WPA Board. Below is a summary of the report on WPA activities I provided to the CPA Board for its April 27 CPA Board meeting.

Governance Update

Background: At the October 2017 WPA General Assembly in Berlin, a proposed package of governance and structural reforms was voted down (defeated). A significant part of those proposed reforms included reducing and restructuring the current WPA Zonal Board Representative structure (the current structure is 18 global Zones). Concerns were raised that a significant reduction of Zonal Representative Board members would reduce the voice of countries and member organizations. An additional concern for Canada was that, if Canada were embedded into a structure that contained only Canada and the USA, that Canada might rarely, if ever, end up with Board representation.

After failure of the above reforms to pass, WPA went ‘back to the drawing board’ and is working on new proposals for reform. Cost savings are a significant driver leading to pressure for change, however Board expenses are not a significant WPA expense. This reflects the fact that the Board only meets in person once a year, at the Annual Congress. The Board is working on maximizing functioning in cost effective ways, including using low cost conferencing technologies to facilitate Board functioning between the annual in person meetings.

Issues Brought Forth by Canada

In general, the Zonal Representatives are hoping to increase the impact of the Board and regions in WPA affairs. Canada has had noticeable and positive impact, including having a significant role in the discussions regarding governance review at the October 2017 General Assembly, while my predecessor Dr. Donna Stewart was still the Zone 1 Representative.

Another area of impact has been bringing more attention at the WPA to issues of assisted dying as they relate to mental illness. In November 2016 at the WPA Congress in Cape Town I chaired the first WPA Roundtable on MAID. We have held symposia at the 2017 WPA Congress in Berlin and 2018 WPA Congress in Mexico City, and Dr. Donna Stewart has coordinated another symposium on MAID for the upcoming WPA Congress in Lisbon.


Under the leadership and through the remarkable initiative of Dr. Vincenzo Di Nicola (Montreal), the Canadian Association for Social Psychiatry/l’Association Canadienne de Psychiatrie Sociale (CASP/ACPS) has been formally revived and admitted to the World Association of Social Psychiatry. The newly elected Executive Committee and Board of Directors will serve their three-year terms from 2019-2022. Our first official meeting will take place at the upcoming 23rd World Congress of Social Psychiatry in Bucharest, Romania (Oct 25-28). CASP/ACPS has submitted a symposium for this congress (and the deadline for abstract submissions has been extended to May 31).

Upcoming 2019 meetings

The following are some upcoming WPA related meetings, hope to see you on the other side of the pond!

  • World Psychiatric Association (WPA) 2019 Congress: Lisbon, Portugal, August 21-24, 2019
  • World Congress of Social Psychiatry: Bucharest, Romania, October 25-28, 2019

Respectfully submitted,

K. Sonu Gaind
WPA Zone 1 Board Representative