IACAPAP Update: President’s Message on COVID-19

Dear Colleagues:

We reach out to you today in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. These are unprecedented times, but not the first time in our 80-year history in which we face crises that seem unsurpassable at the time.

We are reaching out with three concrete items, and a broader message relevant to the days we are living through:

First, we have decided to postpone the World Congress in Singapore which we have been so looking forward to this July. We are currently considering future alternatives and will share our plans in due course. But for now, we want to remind all of our members about the extensive set of online resources that we have available and that we have been steadily building the past decade. Resources include the IACAPAP e-Textbook and its many translations, our massive open online course (IACAPAP MOOC Essentials Program), and of course, the IACAPAP Bulletin. All of these materials are completely free of charge and we encourage you to make use of them and share them with colleagues around the world.

Second, as an umbrella international ‘association of associations’, we have done our best effort to collate materials related to the COVID-19 pandemic in one place. To access some of the materials that we have found most relevant to the practice of child and adolescent psychiatry during these times, please click here. This is a living collection of documents and resources, and we certainly encourage you to contact us with additions, which we will be glad to incorporate.

Third, in an effort to communicate all that we are learning on a daily basis during these times, we encourage you to consider sharing your own experiences as a practicing child and adolescent psychiatry or allied professional. We welcome submissions on any aspect pertaining to our practice during the pandemic, and specifically urge you to consider one of two different venues:

  • Our Bulletin reaches a broad readership through Facebook and social media, and is an appropriate place to share experiences in your clinical practice, support of families, adjusting to telehealth, dealing with the crisis in areas that may not have sufficient protective equipment or able to fully implement social distancing – among many others. To pitch an idea or submit to the Bulletin, please click here.
  • Many of you are involved in scholarly and research activities at this times. We encourage those of you active in research to consider submitting to a forthcoming special issue of our scholarly outlet, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, an issue that will be entirely devoted to the practice of child and adolescent psychiatry and allied professions during the pandemic crisis. To pitch an idea or submit to CAPMH, please click here.

Finally, we want to share some of our thoughts about the extraordinary times we are living through. It is all too common to say that ‘we are all in this together’. At one level, this true, in that COVID-19 has claimed over 100,000 lives in the world by now, the virus knows no borders, and the impact of the pandemic continues to have a global toll. In that sense, we are indeed united as one large human community, and our fates are interconnected.

But at another level, it is not quite accurate to say that we are in this together. Specifically, the virus has taken a disproportionate toll on the poor, the elderly, and on minority and disenfranchised communities around the world. Social isolation is not a human right; it is very much a privilege. We should recognize how privileged we are in being able to communicate through this electronic means. To be able to have each other as a community. To be able to take precautions against the virus.

Regrettably, that is not true for countless families around the globe. Many families around the globe don’t have access to safe water or basic safety, let alone to the Internet. Although the virus has mercifully had a small direct impact on children and those underage, it has shown no such mercies on the families and extended community of caretakers supporting children. Even if this is not a ‘childhood pandemic’, it is very much a family pandemic. It is clear that the reverberations of this time will be enduring, and that our work will be more needed than ever.

This pandemic should remind us of our commitment to children and families and to underserved communities all around the globe. It should also be a powerful reminder of the fact that we are not alone: we have each other. We hope that this message and the many resources included in it may provide not only of solace and comfort, but provide you with concrete tools with which to be better preparade as you go forward to do what you have committed your professional lives to do: to take care of the children and families we are privileged to serve.

We wish health to you, your family, your patients and your communities.

In closing, dear friends, and paraphrasing William Faulkner’s words, we shall prevail, not merely endure.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel Fung, President, and the IACAPAP EC Committee