Re-Search and You Will Discover: The 7th Helmut Remschmidt Research Seminar (HRRS 2019)

Chantanee Mungkhetklang (Thailand), Dian Caesaria Widyasari (Indonesia), Grace Eugenia Sameve (Indonesia) and Priyanka Nambiar (India) on behalf of the HRRS 2019 fellows.

The 7th IACAPAP Helmut Remschmidt Research Seminar (HRRS) held at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Singapore from 25 – 30 August 2019, has come to an end. Raising the theme of ‘Developing Research and Collaborations in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health in Asia’, it particularly highlighted the vital need for scientific studies about early diagnosis, prevention, and promotion of mental health over the lifespan. The seminar was an assemblage of learnings, ideas, and views from our nine world-renowned mentors and twenty-one emerging young research fellows from across the globe. The HRRS fellows from diverse backgrounds of psychiatry, psychology and social work were able to discuss the relevant questions on clinical research and publications in the area of child and adolescent mental health. The lecture sessions from the mentors enabled the fellows to obtain deeper insights and understanding of the need for research to be adapted to various resource settings. It also gave us the opportunity to make personal and professional connections with both the fellows and mentors. We hereby wish to share our experiences at this seminar.

The standard HRRS format consists of an introductory session on Sunday afternoon, followed by lectures in the mornings, and small-group work in the afternoons. The learning experience was absolutely unique and was quite unlike any other seminar. The HRRS has given us not only in-depth lectures and discussions about various technical and content aspects of research, but also pushed our professional self-growth, especially through the inspiration and motivation to continue doing research with a positive mindset and a broader socially-oriented view of research. The various topics, ranging from research-relevant fundamental knowledge to the bigger picture of evidence-based policies, which were covered in the morning sessions have constantly brought us to change our mindset from a narrow mostly-personal focus to an appreciation of global challenges and needs in child & adolescent mental health. The mentors shared their knowledge on research, ethics and professionalism, and made us aware of the importance of interdisciplinary and ‘big picture’ thinking. We were very impressed by the mentors’ diverse viewpoints and by discussions on the importance of aiming to balance clinical work, research, and life. The afternoon sessions lead us to reflect on our own professional works and interest which gradually allowed us to explore ourselves while presenting our own projects as well as listening to other fellows’ work. We can definitely say that what we learned will last long because the atmosphere of learning was positive, supportive and optimistic which undoubtedly will ensure good long-term memory.

The small group and one-on-one mentoring sessions enriched our professional and personal views. The mentors provided invaluable insights about research design, statistical analysis, and advocacy of research-based policy. We gained so much inspiration and motivation from their reassuring stories that research is a lifelong learning process with its own challenges. Despite the limited resources in most of our settings, we should push through these limitations to improve knowledge about the theory and practice of child and adolescent mental health in our settings. This will ensure that the benefits will go beyond the research project when we know how to utilize the research outcomes appropriately. Above all, the mentoring sessions definitely energized us to devote a little more time to our research in a way that reinforces us to be better researchers and mental health professionals.

Another highlight of the seminar is unquestionably the PEOPLE! Taking place at the hub of a continent which boasts of its diversity, twelve countries were represented at this year’s seminar by 21 fellows who seemed to require only a wee bit of effort to ‘chope’ [read: to reserve, the Singapore way] one another and to establish a sincere, harmonious and productive bond of friendship from the very beginning. On top of that, the 9 highly distinguished yet extremely friendly mentors also enriched the fellowship’s dynamics, particularly through their stories — their humane, relatable stories that comprised of not only a back-to-back list of successes, but also delayed successes [read: unexpected yet at times inevitable failures], their fondness of sunscreen as well as their sense of contentment when their hard work is appraised by the Lancet. Finally, the seriously pampering, seriously serious and seriously fun arrangements that were made by the amazing organizing team have also convinced us to conclude that even healthcare-related researchers and practitioners are at-risk of experiencing one specific type of withdrawal symptoms — that is the “post-HRRS withdrawal syndrome”.

We are deeply grateful to IACAPAP and the HRRS conveners (Prof Petrus de Vries and Prof Per-Anders Rydelius) for giving us this wonderful and life-changing opportunity to advance our understanding of child and adolescent mental health research. We thank all our mentors (Prof Petrus de Vries, Prof. Bruno Falissard, A/Prof. Daniel Fung, Prof. Michael Hong, Ass/Prof. Jean Liu, Prof. Per-Anders Rydelius, Prof. Christina Schwenck, A/Prof. Mythily Subramaniam and Prof. Yi Zheng) for their devoted support and guidance. We also like to thank A/Prof Say How Ong (the local HRRS organizer) and his amazing team, Ms. Siska, Ms. Fion, Ms. Veronica, Ms. Liting, Ms. Jesslyn and Mr. Joel for their tireless efforts, flexibility, and hospitality. Lastly and most importantly, we thank Prof. Remschmidt for founding this esteemed research fellowship program that facilitates training and capacity building in the area of child and adolescent mental health from across the globe. We are returning from this seminar with invaluable knowledge and fresh perspectives for research in child and adolescent psychiatry and an experience of a lifetime.