World Association of Cultural Psychiatry

Welcome from
Prof. Sergio J. Villaseñor Bayardo, President of WACP


he World Association of Cultural Psychiatry is a non-profit, freestanding, independent international academic organization whose main objective is to promote the exchange of scientific and educational information and the progress of international activity in the field of cultural psychiatry across the world.

The 1st World Congress of Cultural Psychiatry (WCCP), with the main theme of “Current Perspectives on Research and Clinical Issues in Cultural Psychiatry around the World,” was held in Beijing, China on September 23-26, 2006.

It was at this meeting that the Association was formally established. Prof. Wen Shing-Tseng, the founding and first president of WACP, wrote: “The landmark 1st World Congress of Cultural Psychiatry proved the significance and usefulness of having an event with participants of diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds from around the world to exchange knowledge and experiences relevant to Cultural Psychiatry.”

The 2nd WCCP, organized by Prof. Goffredo Bartocci, was held in the medieval town of Norcia, Italy on September 27-30, 2009. Discussions about the central theme of this meeting reaffirmed the truth of one of the basic principles of our Association: psychopathology cannot be fully understood and addressed without systematically assessing and engaging the patient’s actions and behaviors as determined by his or her cultural, social, political and environmental background.

The 3rd WCCP, with the theme of “Mental Capital, Mental Disorders, Resilience and Wellbeing Through the Life Course,“ held in London on March 9-11, 2012, represented the international consolidation of our scientific discipline. The many new frontiers of cultural psychiatry were explored and found to be substantiated by integrated and complementary concepts in clinical, interpersonal, temperamental, and cultural aspects of the individual’s life cycle.

The 4th WCCP, with the theme of “Global Challenges & Cultural Psychiatry: Natural Disasters, Conflict, Insecurity, Migration, and Spirituality,” took place in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico from October 29th to November 2nd, 2015. It was timed to coincide with the 4th International Congress of the Latin American Group of Transcultural Studies (GLADET AC), also organized by our team in Guadalajara. This WCCP promoted our discipline’s pan-culturally-based theoretical pillars, encouraging a bold expansion into critical areas of global mental health and emphasizing culturally competent clinical care in psychiatry. In Puerto Vallarta we also had the opportunity to share with all the attendees one of our most important and ancient Mexican celebrations: The Day of the Dead. In fact, in collaboration with our Chinese colleagues, we had an altarpiece devoted to the memory of Prof. Wen-Shing Tseng.

The 5th WCCP, with the theme of “Achieving Global Mental Health Equity: Making Cultural Psychiatry Count,” will be held in New York City on October 11-13, 2018. There, in a very appropriate location, we will have another great opportunity to show that culture affects every aspect of clinical care. Positively sure of the success of this event, we hope it will attract many colleagues from around the world who are interested in the most up-to-date advances and achievements in Cultural Psychiatry.

Our duty – our commitment – is to fight against a culture-less psychiatry that denies the human and humanistic essence of our profession!

Welcome from 
Goffredo Bartocci, MD, Co-Founder of WACP


t is an honor for me to once again have the pleasure of inviting the scholars of Cultural Psychiatry to attend the World Congress organized by WACP.

It happens that, every three years, on the occasion of our congresses, the psychological climate that surrounds it changes. The 5th World Congress of Cultural Psychiatry that will be held in New York City at Columbia University offers us a large stage from which our voice may reach colleagues who have previously not been interested in Cultural Psychiatry. The congress may have great impact on mainstream psychiatry. 

As the founder of WACP, my task is to follow its developments, especially on an occasion as important as this congress which constitutes a significant step in the progress of the entire discipline of psychiatry.

In fact, with the passage of time, culture has been increasingly recognized as playing a central role, not only in the shape that pathology takes, but also in the pathogenesis of suffering and its sequela. To reinforce this trend, biological psychiatry and the DSM-5 pay close attention to a biopsychocultural model. Once again we are in a position to demonstrate how crucial it is to take into consideration the influence of culture on all kinds of inter-human relationships.

I am not referring only to the evident impact resulting from the grand venue in the United States or to the excellent social- scientific program that is being produced by Roberto Lewis-Fernández, Daniel Chen, and their group, to whom I am very grateful for the tremendous efforts they have taken.

I am also especially aware that this congress takes place in a specific historical time characterized by an enormous interbreeding of conflicts, human-made disasters, insecurity, and insanity expressed both in the new pathology of the West and in the new pathologies of minority groups. For example, every day news anchors launch a refrain pointing out that the clash of cultures is responsible for promoting terrorism, mass murder, and the identity instability of adolescents. Are we not scholars of a scientific discipline that has to address the answers to these questions? Certainly, our main aim is to provide the younger generations with a secure base from which to construct their identity and, as emphasized in the congress program, to provide migrants with services capable of attending to them. This is the main pragmatic aim of the congress.

I would like to conclude this invitation with a quote from Wen-Shing Tseng on the future of our academic mission (The Future of Cultural Psychiatry, WCPRR Vol.9, Number 1, 2014): “It is a fact that cannot be denied that most of the existing theories about human mind, personality, psychopathology and therapy are proposed by Western scholars, based on their professional experiences with people in the Western societies. Therefore, their universal applicability has been challenged and there are several scholars who have proposed the modification and the expansion of these theories and professional views derived from the West.”

Are we ready to also consider Western forms of ideology in this self-examining mirror?  I am certain that the tremendous determination and skill of our members will be able to lift the veil that covers the importance of many cultural, taken-for-granted beliefs that hamper the flexibility and harmony of natural human development.

I look forward to meeting you in New York! 

Welcome from
Roberto Lewis-Fernández, MD, President of the 2018 World Congress and
Daniel Chen, MD, Co-President of the 2018 World Congress


e are delighted to warmly welcome you to the 5th World Congress of Cultural Psychiatry in New York City, sponsored by the World Association of Cultural Psychiatry (WACP), Columbia University Medical Center, New York Institute of Technology – College of Osteopathic Medicine, and our partner organizations. Every three years, WACP brings together clinicians, researchers, educators, advocates, policy makers, and persons with lived experience who are vitally interested in Cultural Psychiatry. We meet in a global conference to discuss the current state of our discipline and to review its future. 

The theme for the 2018 World Congress, Achieving Global Mental Health Equity: Making Cultural Psychiatry Count, is an invitation to share our reflections and best practices regarding how to maximize the impact of our discipline on day-to-day mental health services. The meeting is especially focused on how to overcome the tremendous disparities in access to quality mental health care that still plague all societies, especially those with low-and-middle income economies, but also those with many more resources. This theme is extremely timely. Every day, the global debate rages around us regarding inequality: arguments for and against nativistic trade policies, immigration bans, religious intolerance, exclusion of nonconforming gender identities, and limitations of healthcare services. At the same time, we are surrounded by inclusive solutions, movements of resilience, and successes in very practical ways of overcoming disparities in the allocation of resources. Our conference seeks to showcase these solutions and the lessons learned with respect to mental health care, focusing on how approaches that take culture seriously can serve as antidotes to inequality in service delivery.

Our hope is that the World Congress can serve as a catalyst for many intra- and cross-national collaborations. What has been useful in one place may be useful in another, so long as these efforts are grounded in local realities. The planning group seeks to build on the WACP community to foster a network of individuals and organizations devoted to reducing disparities in care through the implementation of culture-focused, contextualized, and inclusive approaches.

We invite you to visit our website for examples of subtopics and questions addressed by the Congress. These are a work in progress; the content of the meeting represents the efforts of many – in the end, of all of us who participate in it. Please send us your suggestions, especially regarding specific workshops, symposia, papers, and video presentations.

We extend to you a most enthusiastic invitation to attend the 5th World Congress of Cultural Psychiatry. New York welcomes you to share with us your interest and your experiences working in Cultural Psychiatry and to help us grow the field to provide the most effective care to those who need it.