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Hosted by Editor in Chief Lorenzo Norris, MD, Psychcast features mental health care professionals discussing the issues that most affect psychiatry.

Jun 19, 2019

Update on the American Psychiatric Association – Part 1


Show Notes

By Jacqueline Posada, MD, 4th-year resident in the department of psychiatry & behavioral sciences at George Washington University, Washington.

Lorenzo Norris, MD, interview with Saul Levin, MD, MPA, CEO and medical director of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Dr. Levin also is clinical professor at George Washington University.


In 2019, the American Psychiatric Association celebrated its 175th anniversary.

  • The APA was the first medical association formed in the United States.
  • The 2019 APA annual meeting in San Francisco attracted 13,000 psychiatrists and mental health professionals, and hosted 650 sessions covering all topics in psychiatry, including subjects related to private, community, and academic psychiatry.
  • Highlights of the 2019 meeting included:
    • A Gala at San Francisco City Hall, which allowed generations of psychiatrists to celebrate the progress of the APA.
    • Sessions at the meeting, which focused on the latest basic, clinical, service, and psychopharmacology research.
    • Additional sessions focused on minority and underrepresented populations, both within APA membership and patient populations.
  • Major networking opportunities at the APA were available, allowing peers and experts in the field to create lifelong professional relationships.
    • A burgeoning networking opportunity is the Psychiatry Innovation Lab, which is “an incubator at the American Psychiatric Association that aims to catalyze the formation of innovative ventures to transform mental health care.”

The APA’s role in advocacy: The organization is not just a guild that seeks to support psychiatrists.

  • Part of the APA’s mission is to advocate for patients with mental health illness with a focus on improving treatment and outcomes.
  • For members, the APA sponsors a National Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill and state advocacy days, in which the APA helps fund people to come talk to their elected representatives.

Major areas of advocacy by the APA as a medical association are numerous.

  • Mental health parity: Advocating for equal pay to psychiatrists for treating mental health diagnoses as well as the provision of equal coverage of psychiatric diagnoses by insurance companies.
  • Augmentation of the workforce: Supporting measures aimed at making sure that there are enough psychiatrists to treat patients with mental illness in the United States.

Examples of advocacy initiatives by the APA are numerous. The group is active in the following areas:

The APA recommends several research initiatives.

  • “Moonshots” should be a goal in in psychiatry, much like those taken with illnesses such as HIV and breast cancer.
  • Stigma must be reduced, and money must be appropriated to mental illness research in the same way it is for other medical illnesses.


APA Innovation Lab 

Mental health parity advocacy 

Advocacy and APAPAC


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