PROMOTING THE IDENTITY OF THE CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN PSYCHIATRIST_ WW Fleischhacker _ Department of Biological Psychiatry, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria

The stigma attached to patients suffering from psychiatric disorders has generalized to the whole field of psychiatry. This includes people working in the mental health professions, in particular psychiatrists. The main reasons for this stigma are found in fear (both rational and irrational) and ignorance. As other professions (psychologists, psychotherapists, etc.) are increasingly assuming responsibilities in mental health care, the role of the psychiatrist has become diffuse, both in the perception of health professionals and the lay population. Clarifications as well as corrections of false beliefs must be sought on all levels. Ideally, this will be done in parallel efforts, targeting medical students, residents of all fields of medicine and the general public. Two key messages will support this : firstly, a clear and concise definition of the role of the contemporary psychiatrist (in contrast to the more restricted expertise of psychotherapists and psychologists) and secondly the provision of information with regard to recent achievements in the field (also in quantitative and qualitative comparison to other fields of medicine). As psychiatrists are generally not experts in public relations, professional help from this end must aid this process. In summary, the field needs to proactively deliver clear and positive messages.

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