Future Meetings

2024 Annual Meeting: New York City, NY

Overcoming Disparities in Mental Health: Socio-Structural, Cultural, and Biological Mechanisms

Research on psychopathology increasingly demands an integration of data across all levels of analysis – cultural, socio-structural, and biological – on the causes and mechanisms of disparities in the onset and perpetuation of mental disorders that vary across social groups, including by race/ethnicity, sex/gender, and sexual orientation.  Culture refers to the collective processes of meaning-making and social practice which individuals recreate in their own lives and that contribute to health and disease (e.g., fostering of resilience).  Social structure describes the hierarchical patterning of society that distributes vulnerability and coping resources differentially across individuals and social groups, such as access to education or employment and the impact of discriminatory organizational practices (e.g., differential pay by gender).  Biology encompasses the embodied mechanisms through which these cultural and societal determinants exert their effects to promote coping, distress, and illness (e.g., allostatic load, telomere length) sometimes with multi-generational effects (e.g., epigenetics).  The 2024 APPA Annual Meeting will review the contribution of each of these determinants to health disparities and help advance their integration into a coherent paradigm at the cutting-edge of current thought, with direct impact on the lives of affected individuals and communities.

Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, MD
Columbia/NYS Psychiatric Institute
New York, NY

2025 Annual Meeting

Social Determinants of Psychopathology: Bridging Etiologic Research and Implementation Science to Improve the Lives of Patients and Populations

The social causes of psychopathology have been recognized nearly as long as psychopathology itself. Advances in research on the social determinants of psychopathology have enabled us to understand the causal role of social factors on mental health. For nearly all aspects of the mechanistic underpinnings of psychopathology, we are enjoying a greater understanding of how social factors influence mental health. Social factors become embodied through genomic processes, become encoded in the developing brain, and have enduring influences on neurocognitive development in childhood and cognitive decline later in life. Social factors moderate treatment response and treatment outcomes for many psychiatric conditions. And social factors fundamentally shape the ability to seek and receive mental health care. Unfortunately, the tremendous gains in understanding how social factors cause and sustain psychiatric illness have not yet led to comparable gains in preventing psychiatric illness and in reducing disparities in psychiatric illness; nor have they led to comparable gains in the effectiveness of psychiatric care. I propose to organize an APPA conference that would bring together leading scholars on the social determinants of psychopathology across mental health’s disciplines – epidemiology, anthropology, sociology, genomics, neuroscience, biostatistics, psychiatry, and health policy – to present on our current understanding of how social factors cause mental illness, and what stands in the way of this understanding being fully utilized to improve the lives of patients and populations.

Stephen E. Gilman, ScD
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Bethesda, MD