American Psychiatric Association, May 1-3

The American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting 2021

The annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association was held virtually this year from May 1 to 3 and attracted participants from around the world, including clinicians, academicians, allied health professionals, and others interested in psychiatry. The conference highlighted recent advances in the prevention, detection, and treatment of psychiatric conditions.

In one study, Robert Motley, Ph.D., of Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues found that full-time working Black adults had significantly less police contact anxiety compared to unemployed Black adults.

The authors examined the severity of police contact anxiety that Black emerging adults experienced during or in anticipation of police contact. Computer-assisted surveys were used to collect data from 300 Black emerging adult college students residing in St. Louis. Three 4-point Likert police contact anxiety scales ranging from 0 (not at all) to 3 (severely) were used to assess the severity of anxiety symptoms experienced in the past 30 days during or in anticipation of police contact. Anxiety could be the result of being a victim, a witness, or seeing a video of police use of force in the media. The researchers found that Black emerging adults who worked full-time, compared to those who were unemployed, had significantly lower police contact anxiety scores resulting from seeing a video of police use of force in the media.

“Prior research suggests that employment can be a mechanism that promotes an individual’s sense of self-efficacy, social participation, and mental health. Thus, employed Black emerging adults in our study may have had individual/social support resources that buffered the negative effects of exposure to videos in the media of police use of force,” Motley said. “It is vital that clinicians provide a safe space for Black emerging adults to discuss their experiences with police violence, assess police contact anxiety, and provide them with adequate treatment.”

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In another study, Benjamin Rosen, M.D., of the University of Toronto, and colleagues found that resilience coaching was effective in reducing distress and burnout among health care workers.

The authors used a mixed methods approach to evaluate the implementation and impact of resilience coaching through qualitative interviews of coaches and recipients of coaching and measurement of psychological variables such as distress and burnout. Resilience coaching is a model that uses in-house, embedded clinicians who bring skills in psychological first aid and psychotherapy to provide peer support. The researchers found that resilience coaching provided a model for how embedded psychological support within an organization can bolster resilience during broad health crises.

“Health care workers face considerable threats to psychological resilience as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Factors such as fear of illness (contagion for oneself and one’s loved ones), extended periods of isolation, uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic, moral distress, redeployment anxiety, and vicarious trauma amplify distress and contribute to burnout,” Rosen said. “Psychiatrists and mental health clinicians can apply this skill set to coaching frontline health care workers to bolster resilience and reduce burnout.”

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Eunice Yuen, M.D., Ph.D., of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues found that a cultural- and family-oriented online peer support group that worked with Asian American patients and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic promoted emotional and mental wellness.

The authors adapted Compassionate Home, Action Together (CHATogether) group, which engages the audience through social media, and is designed to use theater vignettes to promote emotional wellness in Asian American youths, young adults, and their families. A qualitative focus group was conducted among the 10 participants who had joined CHATogether since the pandemic started. The researchers found CHATogether to be effective in promoting emotional and mental wellness among Asian American patients.

“CHATogether may serve as an effective culturally based support group for Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing a supportive community and adaptive coping skills through the drama vignette program,” Yuen said. “Although further validation is warranted, drama vignette program may be a future mental health education and prevention program for the Asian American community and beyond.”

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