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Prof Dinesh Bhugra begins Presidency of World Psychiatric Association

Dinesh Bhugra, Professor of Mental Health and Diversity at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, will today begin his Presidency of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). 

The goals for his tenure include domestic violence, child abuse, prisoner mental health, vulnerable minority groups and mental health promotion.

This year has also seen Professor Bhugra become a Member of Global Agenda Council on Mental Health 2014-2016. An initiative led by the World Economic Forum, the Council aims to put mental illness on the global health and development agendas. It also seeks to de-stigmatise the current understanding of mental illness by exploring intellectual and business ventures with significant impact on the management and treatment of mental illnesses, while making the economic arguments for investing in mental health.

At the IoPPN, Professor Bhugra’s research interests include psychosexual medicine; cross-cultural psychiatry; professionalism in psychiatry; decision making by psychiatrists and patients; depression; pathways into psychiatric care; deliberate self-harm and primary care. 

As President of the WPA, the goals of his tenure will include: 

  • Domestic gender-based interpersonal violence, paying specific attention to the role of alcoholism and other psychiatric problems
  • Child sexual, physical and emotional abuse and its impact on development and personality
  • Prisoner mental health care, which is particularly important as there is evidence that 61% of prisoners in many countries have psychiatric disorders
  • Vulnerable minority groups such as migrants asylum seekers, the LGBT population, people with learning disabilities, the elderly etc
  • Mental health promotion

Prof Bhugra added: “My passion is putting training and education in a resourceful way back into Low and Middle Income countries.” He is currently leading an international research project funded by the WPA, covering recruitment of medical students into psychiatry across 23 countries.

Professor Bhugra is also honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. 

In 2012, he was awarded a CBE for services to psychiatry in the New Year’s Honours. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal Society of Medicine, the Royal College of Physicians, the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

He has received honours from the American Psychiatry Association, the American College of Psychiatrists, the Academy of Medical Sciences (Singapore), the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, the Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists and the International Medical Sciences Academy. He sits on the Council of the Academy of Medical Educators and is a founding member of the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management. 

The WPA is an association of national psychiatric societies aiming to increase knowledge and skills necessary for work in the field of mental health and the care for people with mental illness. There are currently 135 member societies, spanning 117 different countries and representing more than 200,000 psychiatrists.