A warm welcome to the 24th edition of the World Congress of the International Association of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP), and to sunny Singapore! I feel honoured to be the host and chair of the organising committee. I would like to thank my organising committee members, in particularly Dr Lim Choon Guan who is also chair of the scientific programme committee and A/Prof Daniel Fung, President of IACAPAP, for his invaluable advice. We have big shoes to fill after past successful congresses in Prague 2018 and Calgary 2016.
The theme of this year’s congress is “Starting from the Beginning – Laying the Foundation for Lifelong Mental Health” and it rightly places an important emphasis on early identification, illness prevention and health promotion over a lifespan. “Lifespan psychiatry” is perhaps something that we have already been doing. The concept of psychiatry over a lifespan also reflects the consideration for early onset, the complexity and the chronicity of mental illnesses, particularly with the fact that 75 percent of mental disorders develop by the age of 24. If we do not address mental health issues well during childhood years, the problems are likely to escalate and become more severe and harder to treat in adulthood. As child and adolescent psychiatrists, we are well positioned to not just treat children and adolescent, but in a way, their adult caregivers, parents and family units as well.
Our 24th IACAPAP congress aims to cover broad topics that are close to our hearts but also include emerging trends and topics of interests. The full four day programme is packed with interesting talks, symposiums and panel discussions. A highlight of this IACAPAP is the movement to raise awareness of mental illnesses among children on 18 July 2020, called “Break the Stigma for families”, which was first started during AACAPAP annual meetings and championed by Dr Andrés Martin. Held for the first time in Asia, the agenda of the movement aligns fittingly with the “Beyond the Label” anti-stigma campaign that was started locally in 2018 by the National Council of Social Services, Singapore. The event will end with a “mental health festival” set within the compound of the Institute of Mental Health, the country’s only tertiary mental health facility. On 19 July 2020, pre-congress workshops are planned. These will be followed by the main Congress from 20 – 23 July 2020.
I would like to welcome you again to the 24th World Congress of IACAPAP in Singapore and I look forward to meeting everyone during this meaningful congress, as you are now not just colleagues and fellow advocates in the battle against mental illnesses in children, but friends across countries. I wish you all well and do enjoy the programme that has been specially organised for you.
A/Prof Say How Ong
24th World Congress of IACAPAP