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Psychiatric Association draws 10,000 to Hawaii

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Psychiatric Association’s 164th Annual Meeting, held May 14-18 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center in Honolulu, after a 38-year absence, drew an estimated 10,000-plus attendees.

The world’s largest psychiatric meeting brought more than $47 million in state revenue, with the center’s hotel partners benefiting from more than 80,000 room nights.

“Hawai‘i is an ideal location to discuss mental health issues that affect such a wide variety of cultures and geographic regions,” said APA President Carol A. Bernstein, M.D.

She added, “We are pleased to have such a strong international turnout and lineup of research submissions.”

Participation was expected from 76 countries and the meeting included world-class research from leaders in psychiatric and other mental health disciplines, including physicians, social workers and nurses. 

The meeting, with the theme of "Transforming Mental Health Through Leadership, Discovery and Collaboration,” had 472 educational and scientific sessions, including 10 new research poster sessions, featuring the results of 638 new studies in psychiatry and mental health.

High-profile speakers also were on hand, such as human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Sessions addresses issues related to identifying, preventing and treating mental illnesses, including those that affect military service members and their families, as well as discussion of trauma and disaster topics that promise to be especially relevant in light of the recent disaster in Japan. 

Discussions also focused on psychiatric issues unique to specific regions of the world and the mental health needs of specific cultural, age, and gender groups.

This included exploring the residual effects of historical trauma in Hawai‘i, such as the introduction of Western diseases more than 100 years ago and the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The forum, “Kaho’olawe: Healing a Violently Traumatized Culture,” provided an opportunity to discuss how families have utilized cultural mechanisms to promote healing and resilience.

"The effort to secure this meeting started with a collaboration between members of the Hawai‘i Psychiatric Medical Association and members of the Hawai‘i State Legislature that began in 1998,” said Honolulu psychiatrist Jeffrey Akaka, M.D., who became a member of the APA assembly in the 1990s and was instrumental in bringing the conference to Hawai‘i.

He added, “With the help of the Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) and the Hawai‘i Convention Center/SMG, not only has this collaboration succeeded in drawing the American Psychiatric Association to Hawai‘i, but with the subsequent help of the APA, also secured the return of the American Medical Association to Hawai‘i in 2003, 2007 and 2012, with each meeting worth at least $5 million in visitor spending or $1 million in tax revenue generation."

Joe Davis, SMG general manager of the Hawai‘i Convention Center, said, “Once again, this places the state at the epicenter of breakthrough medical research and studies.”

Other major medical conferences at the Hawai‘i Convention Center in 2011 include the BMT Tandem Meetings in February; the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in April; and the American College of Chest Physicians annual meeting from Oct. 22-27




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