What to Expect at IACAPAP 2020 in Singapore

By A/Prof Ong Say How and And Dr Lim Choon Guan

The Year 2020 marks 50 years of child psychiatry in Singapore, a significant milestone in the history of psychiatry in the country. Organizing the 24th edition of IACAPAP hence is particularly meaningful for Singapore as well as for the department of child & adolescent psychiatry.

Child psychiatric service has come a long way – from an ad hoc, part-time service in 1970 to a full service with a complement of nearly 100 staff comprising consultant psychiatrists, psychiatric residents, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and nurses. From 550 children and families seen in 1980, our child clinic now sees about 2500 new cases a year. Child psychiatric units have also been set up in two medical hospitals (both with a well established pediatric department) to provide faster access to child psychiatric services. Within this crucial defining period, child psychiatrists have recognized the importance to work closely and collaboratively with various ministries and institutions involving education, social welfare and judiciary systems. This relationship has led to great success in shaping Singapore’s mental health service landscape. Despite being a developed country with high quality of life, education and healthcare standards, Singapore faces its own challenges in terms of rapid changes in family structures and values alongside problems such as excessive screen time among the young, and higher prevalence of self harm and new psychoactive substance use in its youth population.

Consequently, the topics offered by this edition of IACAPAP will place emphasis on these growing trends in mental health in a modern society. However, issues plaguing developing countries are not forgotten. The congress hopes to strike a balance in its spread of discussions on relevant and current topics seen by child psychiatrists and mental health professionals worldwide.

This is the first time that the IACAPAP will be held in Southeast Asia, and we hope to ensure as much representation from each Asian country as possible, while also ensuring representation from the global community. In line with the lifespan view in psychiatry, we wish to emphasize the importance of early assessment and intervention with our congress theme ‘Starting from the Beginning – Laying the Foundation for Life Long Mental Health’. Children spend the most time at home and in school, and families are supported within their own community. 

As such our conference aims to bring together professionals and individuals from all sectors (including mental health, education, social…etc.) so that we can share and learn from one another, in addition to networking.

Please refer to our congress website which we will start to update along the way as the scientific programme slowly shapes up. We welcome those who are interested to organize symposiums or make oral/poster presentations to make their application through our website (www.iacapap2020.org)