General information


Moving forward to meet the needs of a globalizing society.

Evidence based medicine and evidence-based practice has brought us important advancements in medicine in general and mental health in particular. Quality of care has improved, scientific ways of evaluating mental health practices have been developed and non-effective treatments have been eliminated. Without a doubt evidence based medicine has stimulated new scientific ways of thinking and improved mental health care. 

However this came with a price we had to pay. Evidence-based practice has, unequivocally, reduced the reality of our patients, inducing a limited understanding of our patients and leading towards reductionism and decontextualization. This led towards a broadening gap between mental health care and the society in which it has to function, loss of adequate attention towards prevention and loss of attention for the social aetiologies of mental health problems. It is time to move beyond evidence based medicine and moving forward to meet the needs of a globalizing society.

The awareness of the importance of context is emerging, a notion long familiar to the tradition of cultural psychiatry. The next few decades will witness an increasing interest in identifying and focusing on this sociocultural context, and taking account of the consequences the context has on the mental health of our patients and their family and social network.

Cultural psychiatry underlines the inseparability and complex entanglements of biology and the social, and the many ways in which emotions (of distress) are learned and socially situated. Reducing the reality of patients risks ‘pathologizing’ distress that may be an understandable response to extreme conditions or a locally appropriate symptom of expressing distress. A better understanding of patients’ worldviews, practices and views on underlying causes (e.g. spiritual or social factors) will be expected to contribute to improved interactions between mental health care practitioners and patients.

This congress will contribute to this development, both theoretically as well as by mobilizing empirical contextualized and (cross-)cultural evidence, and projections of solutions and innovations they bring into sight. Cultural psychiatry recontextualizes the patient again: cultural psychiatry moves beyond reductionism and isolating variables. It supplements it with context, with local knowledge, idioms of distress, values and norms of local communities. In this congress we focus on contextualization of the patient. We move from ‘evidence-based practice’ towards ‘context-based practice’ and present and discuss recent research findings and which research methodologies are required to inform, develop and improve the current psychiatric research, in order to improve finally the mental wellbeing of our patients.

On behalf of the organizing committee;

Mario H. Braakman, MD PhD

Psychiatrist, President-elect of the WACP, former Chair of the transcultural psychiatry department of the Netherlands Psychiatric Association and Chair of the organizing committee of the 6th World Congress of the WACP.

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