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IEPA 11 Opening Session: "Prevention & Early Intervention: Broadening the Scope"

World Mental Health Day is on 10 October 2018 and it will be marked by a variety of educational and awareness-raising events at the 11th International Conference on Early Intervention in Mental Health: Prevention and Intervention (IEPA 11). A large, global audience of scientists, mental health practitioners, policy makers, administrators, and people with lived experience of mental illness and their relatives was welcomed to the conference at the Opening Session by Peter Jones, IEPA President and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, UK, the conference co-chairs Matcheri Keshavan and Kristen Woodberry, and Margaret Deason, the Deputy Commissioner for Mental Health. They highlighted the interactivity of the meeting and the importance of connecting and sharing ideas to inspire, renew and rejuvenate delegates in their everyday endeavors to improve mental health.

The IEPA is uniquely interdisciplinary, involving everyone who has an interest in improving mental health — scientists, mental health practitioners, policy makers and administrators responsible for resourcing services, and consumers — said Professor Jones.

Early diagnosis and intervention improves outcomes and has a beneficial impact on developmental trajectories

He explained that the origins of the IEPA in Australia in the 1990s had reflected a paradigm shift in the treatment of psychosis with the recognition that; early diagnosis and intervention not only improved outcomes, but also had a beneficial impact on the developmental trajectory of the illness.

The IEPA has since become a global organization and reaches many individuals and other organizations worldwide through its websites in English, French and Portuguese, and expanding use of social media. These methods of communication aim to further their reach in order to increase awareness of mental health on World Mental Health Day.

IEPA 11 is broadening its scope

The philosophy of early intervention benefits mental illnesses other than psychosis and is beneficial for stakeholders worldwide, not just those that in developed countries, said Professor Jones. The focus for IPEA 11 is therefore “Broadening the Scope;” and the next IEPA meeting will be in South America in Rio de Janeiro in 2019.

Broadening of scope will enable progression towards the collective goal to improve mental health worldwide

Professor Keshavan said that in addition to the geographical aspect, Broadening the Scope emphasizes the need for a broadening of skills and scaling up on three levels as follows:

  • translation of knowledge from bench to bedside
  • extending the diagnostic spectrum from psychosis to mental health more generally
  • scaling up of conferences to include all stakeholders with different journeys

Dr Woodberry highlighted how the IEPA had arranged a 1-day attendance for people with lived experience and their relatives to join IEPA 11 to share their experiences and ideas and interact with other delegates.

Connecting and sharing ideas to learn from each other is a major focus of IPEA 11, emphasized Dr Deason, and she hoped the meeting would inspire, renew and rejuvenate all delegates in their everyday work to improve mental health.

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