Leadership Development in Psychiatry

Action Mental Health - Prof. Norman Sartorius


The objective of this project is to identify future leaders of psychiatry and facilitate their professional development. This is being done through (1) the provision of training in professional skills; (2) the establishment of a worldwide network of young psychiatrists involving, in particular, those in developing countries; and (3) support to projects for work that young psychiatrists undertake together.

Young psychiatrists – regardless of whether they are primarily engaged in research or clinical work – often lack the skills which would make it easier for them to obtain support for their work, to present the results of their research and communicate with others engaged in similar work elsewhere. They often feel isolated and frequently lose motivation for further learning and for scientific work.

The courses have a standard curriculum focusing on the acquisition of specific skills that can be useful for psychiatrists at the beginning and in the course of their career. The skills that are being developed in an intensely interactive style include skills of presentations of scientific and other material, skills of chairmanship and leading groups, fund searching, and other skills selected in the light of information about the students and the countries in which they live and work.

In addition to a clearly demonstrable improvement of leadership skills the courses have also led to continuing and collaborative contacts among the participants and to the development and implementation of joint projects. Until now the early career psychiatrists from some forty countries carried out the following studies :

Over the years, some of the leadership courses were carried out in collaboration with other organizations, including the World Psychiatric Association and several of its national member societies with the Brandenburg Academy of Science in Berlin and with a number of universities. Support for the courses came from various sources, including universities, foundations and unrestricted educational grants by pharmaceutical companies. A description of the programme has been published.

  • Sartorius N, (2013). Acquiring Leadership Skills: Description of an International Programme for Early Career Psychiatrists In: Bhugra D, Ruiz P, Gupta S.  Leadership in Psychiatry. John Wiley & Sons Ltd., pp 226-232.  Acquiring Leadership Skills

In all, since the first course was held the AIMHP organized more than 80 courses involving more than a thousand psychiatrists early in their career and coming from close to one hundred countries.