On April 24th, the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care is sponsoring an all-day symposium at Yale University entitled “New Data and New Hopes Call for New Practices in Clinical Psychiatry.” The symposium is co-sponsored by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the State of Connecticut. Speakers include scientific advisors and board members of the Foundation, Yale Psychiatry faculty, and leading researchers and thought leaders from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and several other American universities.
The symposium will review new data generated over the last decade related to the treatment, course, and outcome of serious mental illnesses and discuss the implications of these data for changing clinical practice in psychiatry. Rigorous longitudinal studies conducted by Martin Harrow, PhD (University of Illinois) and Lex Wunderink, MD, PhD (University of Groningen), for example, have suggested that long-term (so-called “maintenance”) use of anti-psychotic medications can impede rather than facilitate recovery for a percentage of people experiencing schizophrenia. In a separate development, investigations of the reporting (and non-reporting) practices of the pharmaceutical industry have called into question claims they have made for the efficacy of some antidepressant medications; claims that have been extensively explored by David Healy, MD (University of Wales and FEMHC board member). Following presentations by each of these investigators, Courtenay Harding, PhD (Columbia and Boston Universities and FEMHC board member) and Keris Jan Myrick, MBA, PhDc (Associate Director for Consumer Affairs of SAMHSA) will reflect on the implications of these data and describe changes in clinical practice they think are needed for mental health care to more effectively promote the recovery of persons with serious mental illnesses.
Following these commentaries, the afternoon session of the symposium will be devoted to exploring recent, promising developments in mental health care that offer new hopes for persons with serious mental illnesses and their loved ones. Vinod Shrihari, MD (Yale) will describe the progress made to date through early intervention programs in promoting recovery and preventing long-term disability in persons experiencing the onset of schizophrenia. Christopher Gordon, MD and Mary Olson, PhD (University of Massachusetts) will describe and present data on an alternative approach to early intervention—named “Open Dialogue”—that was developed in Finland and is currently being implemented across Western Europe. This approach begins by intervening not only with the young person experiencing early signs of psychosis but with this person’s social network as well, shifting the use of antipsychotic medications from that of a first line treatment to one that is used as a last resort.
Finally, Larry Davidson, PhD (Yale professor and Foundation board member) will review data on the effectiveness of other psychosocial interventions that have been developed to promote the recovery and social inclusion of persons with serious mental illnesses, including new forms of psychotherapy and peer support as well as the array of more established psychiatric rehabilitation interventions such as supported housing and supported employment. Ample time will be allotted throughout the day so that the participants and audience members will be able to discuss each of these recent developments and the important implications they have for transforming clinical practice to be more recovery-oriented.