What's Hot: Your Guide to APA 2018 Annual Meeting

Megan Brooks

April 30, 2018

Psychiatrists from around the world will gather in New York City from May 5 to 9 for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2018 annual meeting.

With more than 15,000 attendees expected, this year's theme — Building Well-Being Through Innovation — addresses two key issues that psychiatrists face today: physician burnout, which affects 2 in 5 psychiatrists, and the role of technology and innovation in mental health care.

"This theme is woven throughout the program," said APA President Anita Everett, MD, during a premeeting press briefing highlighting key research and speakers.

An entire track will focus on physician burnout and well-being. Sessions will explore strategies to promote physician wellness and interventions that can help psychiatrists stay ahead of changes and meet the needs of patients while maintaining professional satisfaction and personal balance, said Everett.

On Sunday, Darrell Kirch, MD, psychiatrist and president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, will discuss how psychiatrists and the broader medical community can build a resilient workforce for the future.

Several Sunday sessions will explore how technology is changing the field of psychiatry. Prof Susan Greenfield, founder and CEO, Neuro-Bio Ltd, will give a presentation entitled, How the Digital World is Changing the Way We Think and Feel, and Thomas R. Insel, MD, founder and president of Mindstrong Health, will answer the question, Will Technology Transform Mental Healthcare?

Innovation Zone Encore

The Mental Health Innovation Zone is back again this year by popular demand. "This is always very popular and a lively spot in the exhibit hall, and that will again be prominent this year," said Everett. This year, the Innovation Zone will highlight a wide range of topics, including wearable technology for mental health, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and apps used in recovery, she noted.

Learning Labs returns again this year. Sessions will emphasize hands-on learning and team training. And the "ever-popular" MindGames, in which teams of residents go head to head with each other in a Jeopardy-style competition on patient care, medical knowledge, and psychiatric history, is back and is "sure to be a fun and informative event," said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, MD.

During Sunday's opening session, retired US Army Lt. Gen Mark Hertling, former commanding general of US Army Europe, will give a talk on how physicians can apply leadership principles developed by the military to medical practice.

On Monday, Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will give the William C. Menninger Memorial Lecture. She will discuss mental health strategy at different levels of government. McCance-Katz is a long-time member of the APA and an expert on opioids.

Once again, the APA has partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for a series of sessions that highlight the latest science on diagnosis and treatment, with special focus on personalized medicine and genomics. NIMH Director Joshua Gordon, MD, PhD, will deliver a plenary talk on computational psychiatry.

NIDA Takes Center Stage

Several sessions feature National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director Nora Volkow, MD, who will address new research and how it can affect the ongoing opioid crisis.

A number of sessions will focus on the "hot topic" of ketamine as a treatment for depression, Tristan Gorrindo, MD, APA director of education, told the briefing. Ketamine is an "exciting new treatment, but it comes with significant challenges, particularly related to appropriate patient selection. It's really a hot topic right now for both patients and as psychiatrists," he said.

Gorrindo noted that many APA members have "reached out to us quite often about ketamine, trying to figure out what is the right patient to refer for ketamine treatment. Is it a last-line treatment or a frontline treatment?"

With a record number of submissions this year, attendees have more than 500 sessions to choose from. Research tracks cover many areas of psychiatry, including those dedicated to the subspecialties of addiction psychiatry, childhood and adolescent psychiatry, consult liaison psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and geriatric psychiatry.

There will be discussions on collaborative care, including new ways that psychiatrists can participate with primary care providers in healthcare delivery. Everett encouraged attendees to take advantage of the free collaborative care training the APA will be offering multiple times during the meeting. This year, the APA has added a new advanced course for psychiatrists who are ready to implement collaborative care in their communities, she said.

New Research Highlights

On Monday, the APA's third national poll on mental health will be released. It will show "significant changes" in Americans' anxiety from 2017 to 2018, Levin said. The survey also provides new insights into Americans' views on current topics in public health, including gun violence and the opioid epidemic.

Linda Worley, MD, APA scientific program chair, provided a rundown of some of her favorite scientific sessions:

  • Common Challenges in Assessing and Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  • Eating Disorders in Adolescents: Diagnosis, Treatment & Research Update

  • In the Classroom and on the Field: Improving Mental Health Care for Collegiate Student Athletes

  • Lithium: The Old New Wonder Drug

  • Telepsychiatry and Mental Health Technologies

  • To Treat or Not to Treat Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders: Both Options Carry Risks

  • Beyond the Interview: Applying Smartphone Apps, Sensors and Web Technology to the Process of Clinical Assessment in Psychiatry

  • Issues and Controversies Around Marijuana Use: What's the Buzz?

  • It's Not All in Your Mind: Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction

  • Why Are Women Physicians at Higher Risk for Burnout? Empowering the Next Generation to Do it Better (Than We Have)!

  • Cutting Edge Innovations to Provide Care

  • Thriving Despite the Stress: Living a Smooth Sailing Life!

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