The International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation
 

"SPMI 96" PSYCHOSOCIAL ISSUES IN THE TREATMENT OF THE SERIOUSLY AND PERSISTENTLY MENTALLY ILL

Charles Huffine, MD


The winter meeting of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists was held at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle Washington February 2nd and 3rd, 1999. The scientific meeting on the 3rd followed a productive day for the AACP board which met the day before. The scientific meeting was very well received by all attendees. Dr. Stephen Goldfinger and Ken Minkoff delivered inspiring and informative plenary presentations. They each offered empathic explanations of the experience of a mentally ill individual who is homeless, most likely drug or alcohol addicted and familiar with, but avoidant of our system of care. Both Drs Goldfinger and Minkoff have a unique feel for the world of the mentally ill, including their fear and mistrust of the "system." Both emphasized the importance for professionals to forge empathic connections with these individuals. Dr. Minkoff proposed a model for dual diagnosis programs which truly integrates the values and assumptions of mental health treatment with that of drug and alcohol recovery programs. His suggestion was to reconceptualize mental health treatment in a recovery model and to adapt the recovery concept to be more inclusive of biomedical and psychosocial interventions.

Breakout sessions offered a broad array of presentations. They ranged from examples of outreach case management programs from various regions of the country to specific programs offering unique services or serving special populations.

The conference filled the room at the Edgewater with 250 participants. They included 110 psychiatrists who came from throughout the Northwest and from many other parts of the country. The conference hosted mental health professionals of all disciplines with heavy representation from our colleagues in psychosocial nursing. There were administrators from agencies and from government and there were approximately sixty members of advocacy groups. Attendees came from all corners of the state of Washington. There were many from Oregon and several from Idaho and Alaska. Although non-AACP board members came from as far away as Hawaii and Illinois. The conference was truly a regional event for those concerned with the care of the seriously and persistently mentally ill.

The presence of a large group of advocates, many of who were consumers, was a unique feature of this conference. Never before in Washington State has a large gathering of psychiatrists sat together with our patients and their families to grapple with the problems of mental illness. This made for very poignant discussions as varying perspectives were offered on types of programs for the mentally ill. Each section of the conference was ended with comments from an advocate discussant. At the end of the day all participants who wished to stay gathered at a panel discussion were themes from earlier presentations could be developed. This proved very successful as a rich exchange emerged with many consumers and advocates joining in the discussion.

The AACP board was very appreciative of the efforts of the Washington State Association of Community Psychiatrists in organizing the conference and in extending a warm welcome to all AACP members from out of town. There was a great opportunity for professional sharing at several receptions and group dinners. The AACP board was also very impressed with the very strong support this conference had from the Washington State Psychiatric Association, the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry, the Veterans Administration and from the King County Mental Health Division. Four pharmaceutical companies also helped in funding this conference; Janssen, Eli Lilly, Solvay and SmithKline and French. Dr. Huffine, the conference organizer, expressed gratification that the conference went smoothly and that so many seemed to enjoy the program. He was especially pleased that Seattle sparked in sunshine, showing off its full glory to our AACP colleagues while they were in town with great views of Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains right from the Edgewater Inn.
 

AACP Newsletter Community Psychiatrist

Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1996


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