Dubai to host ‘world’s largest’ mental health congress for children
Dubai: Dubai will host the 25th edition of the ‘World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions’ (IACAPAP 2022) at the Dubai World Trade Centre next week.
The “world’s largest mental health congress for children and adolescents”, happening for the first time in the Arab world, will be hosted by Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, the UAE’s “first and only dedicated children’s hospital”.
Held every two years, the Congress brings together the global community to discuss important topics and promote global advancements in the field.
From December 5 to 9, the landmark 25th edition of the Congress will be hosted under the theme of ‘Child and Adolescent Mental Health: Shaping the Future’.
IACAPAP 2022 also aligns with the UAE National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031, which aims to make the nation a world leader in quality of life through several strategic objectives and initiatives.
In 2016, Dubai became the first Arab city to win the bid to host the Congress.
The first IACAPAP World Congress to be held in the region in its 86-year history, the event will provide a platform for scientists and clinicians from across the globe to discuss the latest research, explore the current mental health challenges of children and adolescents, and highlight cutting-edge innovations to enhance mental health.
The event in the region will feature CPD-accredited sessions led by some of the world’s leading professionals, including Professor Antonio Hardan, Chief Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Stanford University; Professor Bennet L Leventhal, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; and the former President of IACAPAP, Professor Bruno Falissard, Head of Public Health and Mental Health Research Lab at Paris-Sud University, among others.
Dr Abdullah Al Khayat, CEO of Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, said: “The IACAPAP has won accolades from all over the world for its invaluable efforts to address the numerous mental health issues that the younger generation has been facing. Regionally, Al Jalila Children’s is a pioneer in improving children’s mental health. Both organisations hosting the World Congress this year is a significant step. We’re hopeful that hosting the World Congress in Dubai will have a long-term positive impact on transforming the region’s mental health landscape.”
The first day of the event is reserved for pre-congress workshops, with the official opening ceremony scheduled for December 6. Over five days, the congress will host 12 workshops, 15 keynote talks, and more than 250 hours of the symposium and lectures.
The sessions, involving more than 300 experts worldwide, will cover several topics, including anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, policy and advocacy, preventing mental disorders and enhancing well-being, and emerging technologies to improve access to child and adolescent mental health services.
Pressing issues, such as parental concerns regarding parent-child interactions and the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, will also be covered in the programme. Thousands of delegates from more than 85 countries are set to attend the sessions.
Advancing paediatric mental health
According to Dr Ammar Albanna, President of the Emirates Child and Adolescent Mental Health Society and Head of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Centre of Excellence at Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, IACAPAP 2022 highlights Dubai’s commitment to societal mental health, especially that of children.
“As a leading children’s hospital in the region, Al Jalila Children’s Hospital is proud to have played a key role in bringing the distinguished group of professionals from across the globe to Dubai to discuss mental health issues,” he said.
“Focusing on mental health has never been more important because a substantial percentage of the world’s population suffers from mental health difficulties, particularly the most vulnerable group, including children. The World Congress will discuss innovative ways to enhance children’s mental health. It will tackle critical subjects, including how to respond to the surge in mental health disorders in the context of COVID-19. The fact that the Congress is being held for the first time in the region in Dubai highlights the UAE’s efforts to advance pediatric mental health.”
Meanwhile, Dr Daniel Fung, the president of IACAPAP, underlined the benefits of the Congress, noting how it will enable networking with members from IACAPAP associations and industry professionals worldwide. “Dubai is the most populous city of the UAE. Youth constitutes almost 30 per cent of the region’s population. We need to emphasise the importance of advocating for the mental health of the region’s youth, especially as we enter a new period of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.”
Dubai’s hosting of the event will mark another milestone in the emirate’s efforts to lead mental health awareness in the region and support its efforts of becoming a leading health tourism hub.