on June 25, 2020, the General Assembly of the European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine gave me the honour to be elected president of our Association. I will try to do my best to serve the EAPM, their executive board and their members to maintain or even increase the leadership, strength, representativeness of our association with the aim to achieve their objectives in the field of the Psychosomatic Medicine and Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry.
I have always been a convinced follower of the associative movement in the field of medical sciences, medical research and medical education. I do believe that to achieve the best clinical practice we need to learn, create, and share our knowledge with as many colleagues as possible, beyond the boundaries of local, national or international interests.
Honestly, I’m really surprised of myself and about this way of thinking and of my big interest in associations, in internationality and in integrating knowledge, taking into account that I spent all my life in not more than about 10 km of distance: I was born in Barcelona, I went to school in the Deutsche Schule Barcelona (German School of Barcelona), I did my MD and PhD in the Medical School of the University of Barcelona, where I became Associated Professor. I studied Philosophy in the University of Barcelona, I did my residency in Psychiatry in Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, and I have been working in Hospital Clinic of Barcelona since then. Finally, my workplace in the Catalan Department of Health is in Barcelona, and I live with my family in a village which is very close to Barcelona.
So, where are the origins of those interests mentioned before?
First, I would say that some of my interests are mainly due to some of my personality traits, but also because of my education and experiences in the German School of Barcelona. Indeed, very early in my life, when I was a medical student, even before ERASMUS student exchange was a well-established programme, I chaired an association which organized medical students exchange all over the world. I time later, during the residency in psychiatry and together with some other colleagues, we founded the Association of Psychiatric Residents in Catalonia. Shortly after starting to work as a psychiatrist, I began to collaborate with the Catalan Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health. When I was the president of this society we got the order to organize the 5th Conference of the EAPM in Barcelona. This was the moment when I really got to know the EAPM. Further, I’m still member of the Organization of AIDS Psychiatrists and member of the HIV/AIDS Psychiatry Section of the World Psychiatry Association. Finally, for more than 10 years I have been organizing the International Symposium on Neuropsychiatry and HIV, annually.
However, there is another origin of my special interest in the EAMP. Again since the time of my residency I started to do part of my clinical and research work in the field of the consultation-liaison psychiatry, specifically in HIV/AIDS, and also in haematological cancers and transplantation. Since then and for more than 20 years I have done clinical, research and educational work in HIV Psychiatry in areas such as depression, psychopharmacology, drug interactions, and psychotherapy in HIV. My PhD was about the effect of depression on the progression of HIV-infection and on adherence to treatment.
Moreover, working with people with HIV / AIDS helped me to get an integrated and holistic view or the management of the psychiatric and psychological problems in people with severe medical illnesses. From that I and learned how to use an integrated biopsycholsocial approach to all my patients with mental disorders, not only those with an underlying medical illness.
Most recently, in 2019, I had to give up my charges as chief of the Psychiatric Inpatient Clinic, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona and as Medical Coordinator in Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu, to became director of the Master Plan for mental health and addiction in the Department of Health of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government). In my current position an integrated, holistic, collaborative view based on good research, training and education is helping me to analyse, plan and implement governmental decisions and policies to benefit mental health and emotional well-being in the general population.
In summary, I would say that most of my interests are very close to the primary objectives of the European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine, mainly to promote care in an integrated biopsychosocial basis, to support research, training and education in the field of the psychosomatic medicine and consultation liaison psychiatry, to foster interaction and collegiality among scientists, clinicians, professors, trainees and all those professionals who are actively involved in the Psychosomatic Medicine and the Consultation Liaison Psychiatry in all Europe, and to provide the conditions to allow the dissemination of knowledge and expertise of Psychosomatic Medicine, Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, and Integrated Care.
Jordi Blanch I Andreu
President of the European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine
November 8th 2020