The Academy’s strategic objectives include developing relationships with leading organizations in Medicine and Psychiatry. We have already delved into the role of L. Lee Tynes, MD, PhD, FACLP, at the American Medical Association and Michael Peterson, MD, PhD, DFAPA, FACLP, who represents the Academy at ACROSS meetings at the American Psychiatric Association. Here we talk with Scott Simpson, MPH, MD, FACLP, who is a guest at the Board of the American Association of Emergency Psychiatry (AAEP).
Tell us about the AAEP and your role as ACLP’s liaison
AAEP is a multidisciplinary organization that sponsors educational programs and provides a network of experts to address clinical, educational, administrative, research, and legal programs for the diverse disciplines involved in emergency psychiatry.
AAEP’s mission statement is: “We are champions for the advancement of evidence-based, compassionate care for behavioral emergencies through research, education, and interdisciplinary collaboration.”
Its membership includes directors of psychiatric emergency services and emergency departments (EDs), psychiatrists, emergency physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, physician assistants, educators, and other professionals involved in emergency psychiatry.
The AAEP’s annual meeting, the National Updates on Behavioral Emergencies, is the largest conference dedicated to addressing behavioral emergencies in acute care settings. AAEP is also represented in the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association.
As the first liaison to the AAEP board, my role is to attend AAEP board meetings to provide regular communication between our organizations and cultivate opportunities to collaborate on our organizations’ common aims related to the treatment of patients experiencing psychiatric crises across a number of care settings.
Why would ACLP have a liaison to the AAEP?
ACLP has a large and energetic Emergency Psychiatry Special Interest Group [of which Dr. Simpson is the outgoing co-chair.] ACLP members are leaders in providing clinical care, producing research, and leading services that impact the care of patients in EDs, hospitals, and crisis settings. ACLP’s annual meeting routinely highlights state-of-the-art research and innovations in emergency psychiatry.
The energy and expertise of ACLP’s members make us natural partners for other professional organizations seeking to improve the care of emergency mental health services.
ACLP’s purview is broad and includes the large scope of C-L Psychiatry, whereas AAEP’s mandate is more focused on specific issues related to emergency psychiatry, and its membership includes emergency medicine physicians, social workers, and other health professionals. Thus, the organizations align on some specific areas and have unique strengths that make for a natural partnership in the care of our mutual patients.
How do you envision ACLP and AAEP collaborating?
Many individuals are active in both the ACLP and AAEP. Our organizations have not had formal ties in the past, but we have informally worked together. For example, AAEP’s annual meeting occurs in December, and the Emergency Psychiatry SIG invites AAEP leadership to our SIG meetings to discuss their upcoming conference.
I hope that we can have more informal connections such as social gatherings at each other’s annual meetings. More formal collaborations might include co-writing clinical guidelines and manuscripts, generating position statements, co-sponsoring national presentations and educational curricula, and aligning lobbying efforts. I anticipate that working more closely with AAEP will provide great professional networking opportunities for our members.
What issues of interest to ACLP members are prominent in emergency psychiatry right now?
There is so much happening in emergency psychiatry right now! Even before the pandemic, about one in eight of the more than 130 million ED visits per year in the US were for a behavioral health presentation. During the pandemic, there have been an increase in visits for self-harm, overdoses, domestic violence, and suspected child abuse. The impact of the pandemic has been particularly pronounced among some demographic groups—for example, ED visits for self-harm among adolescent girls has increased by more than 50%.
For decades, C-L psychiatrists have pioneered the delivery of mental health care through collaborative and integrated care models in primary care settings. We are now challenged to apply these lessons to improving the mental health care of ED patients. EDs serve as safety net providers and treat persons who are more likely to be uninsured and identify as racial minorities, and emergency psychiatry is positioned to improve the accessibility of high-quality psychiatric care and reduce related health disparities. Our colleagues in emergency medicine are raising the profile of Social Emergency Medicine to address social determinants of health impacting ED patients; C-L psychiatrists are natural partners in these efforts!