Winter 2018 Issue
By Meredith Lee, DO, FAPA
Meredith Lee, DO, FAPA
Greetings to the members of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia:
First of all, a big THANK YOU to all who attended and participated in the recent meeting on September 28-29, entitled “Fighting Stigma in Mental Healthcare.” I was overwhelmed with the quality of the speakers and how well the presentations fit together within the meeting theme. For those of you who were unable to attend, here is a brief recap.
On Friday, September 28, members were able to attend two different break-out sessions. The first one, “Finding Balance and Avoiding Burnout,” was led by Lynne Hughes. We also had Dr. Jeremy Kidd, who traveled from New York, provide a session on transgender healthcare to trainees. Both sessions were very well attended. Members then attended a reception where Senator Jeremy McPike, of the 29th Senatorial District, was presented with the Legislator of the Year award for his work in co-sponsoring legislation to incorporate mental health education in public schools, and for sponsoring legislation for school counselors to have mental health training. After the reception, several PSV members were able to explore downtown Staunton during their annual “Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival” (aka Harry Potter festival). The streets were filled with people wearing Harry Potter-themed costumes and many of the stores participated in the festival by decorating their storefronts. It was quite a magical night in Staunton!
Saturday morning started with Dr. Jeremy Kidd who presented, “Special ‘T’ Training: Providing Competent and Affirming Psychiatric Care to Transgender Individuals.” Dr. Kidd provided much practical information and helpful tips when working with transgender individuals. The next lecture was presented by Dr. Stephanie Peglow. Dr. Peglow did an excellent job discussing how media portrayal of substance use throughout the years has created stigma in certain racial/ethnic groups. She provided a very interesting history of the opioid epidemic, including historic cartoons and other images found in media. After Dr. Peglow’s presentation, members were able to visit the exhibitors and view the posters that had been presented by trainees on Friday evening.
I must say this in all capital letters: THE POSTERS THIS YEAR WERE EXCEPTIONAL! We had trainees represented from every single residency program in the state. There were some very interesting case presentations and the overall quality of the posters was superb. I am thankful for the Mobile Meeting Guide on my smartphone so I could view all 30 posters; they were presented on three different screens during the meeting so it was impossible to catch every presentation in real time.
After the poster presentations, Dr. Larry Merkel (who is not only a psychiatrist, but also has a PhD in anthropology) spoke about stigma in global mental health. He spoke about how different cultures view mental illness, specifically schizophrenia. He also described how biomedical theories of psychiatric illness may actually increase stigma. Dr. Merkel’s lecture was followed by Rhonda Thissen, the Executive Director of Virginia NAMI, who spoke about the impact of stigma within the treatment relationship, as well as in society. Ms. Thissen showed a video of a client who discussed her experience of feeling stigmatized by her own mental health providers. Ms. Thissen’s lecture was a reminder that the actions and language used not only in society, but also among mental health providers, may be alienating or stigmatizing to patients.
We were pleased to have Dr. Kirsten Wilkins, a geriatric psychiatrist at Yale University, present “Ageism in Mental Healthcare.” She described “ageism” as one of the more tolerated “-isms” in our society and discussed the negative bias towards aging that is seen in society, in healthcare settings and in medical education (the “hidden curriculum”). This lecture was relevant and timely with our rapidly expanding population of older adults. This was followed by Dr. John Shemo, who gave a very informative presentation entitled, “The Mental Health Parity Law: The Status of Compliance within the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Dr. Shemo provided a summary of the Millman Report and described details of the mental health parity legislation. He described the disproportionately high numbers of mental health and substance use providers who are out-of-network as compared to medical-surgical providers, and offered some possible solutions.
The meeting was adjourned after a lively panel discussion led by Dr. Joshua Smith. Dr. Smith is one of the current chief residents at UVA and did an excellent job soliciting commentary from the panel (which included all six speakers) and questions from the audience. Thanks again to all who participated and attended the meeting.
Please consider joining us for the next meeting to be held on March 29-30, 2019 in Charlottesville. The theme is “The Doctor is In: Psychiatry in Medicine.” I look forward to seeing you there.
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