My name is Alejandra Postlethwaite, and I am honored and grateful to serve as President of the California Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The next two years will present multiple challenges for our organization, its members, and the families we serve, emanating from the ongoing pandemic, but at the same time, the possibility of unparalleled opportunities to advocate for improving mental health care and conditions for children and adolescents across the state.
During the ongoing pandemic, California continues to stand out from the rest of the country as a beacon of progressiveness, resilience, and compassion, particularly for those at the margins of society. Addressing mental health concerns is a crucial component to the wellbeing of California’s youth and their families now more than ever. CALACAP has been at the forefront of advocating for measures that would improve the mental health treatment of the disadvantaged. Additionally, our organization has been integral in helping the legislature, governor, and various state departments/agencies address workforce shortage problems, “access to care” issues, and other “bread and butter” topics related to child and adolescent psychiatry.
Through our presence in Sacramento, CALACAP has managed to advocate for both child and adolescent psychiatrists and our patients. We have helped modify well-intentioned, though ill-advised legislation, and tempered the potential negative effects of such legislation through working with our legislative advocates, Shaw Yoder Antwih Schmelzer & Lange, legislators, and their staff. This year, we will take the next step of co-sponsoring our own pieces of legislation.
Fortunately, CALACAP will not walk this road alone. In order to increase our numbers and amplify our effectiveness during legislative advocacy days (and throughout the year), we will continue to nurture partnerships with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California and Children Now, adding strength of our coalition. These actions have increased our voice in Sacramento and nationally.
My goals as president are to improve the care of children and families in our communities by providing high quality professional education, supporting trainees and early career psychiatrists, advocating a thoughtful legislative agenda, collaborating with other mental health disciplines, and help CALACAP continue to serve as a professional home for all child and adolescent psychiatrists throughout California. I welcome all members to reach out with any ideas or questions. I also welcome all members to join our collaborative events, particularly our spring and fall advocacy days. In addition, I welcome all families seeking help to look at our Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder page and our Resource Center page, which will also link you to our national/parent organization’s website where you can find more resources.
The next few years will be crucial in the development and implementation of child mental health law and policy. As an organization, we have a unique opportunity to influence these domains. We will remain vocal advocates for our patients, members, and by extension, society at large. Additionally, we will continue to be educators of and collaborators with our own members, physicians from different disciplines, legislators, other policymakers, and the general public. By utilizing the individual and collective expertise of our membership, and by leveraging the power of our partnerships and coalitions, we can both effectively address the inevitable challenges we will face and take advantage of the unique opportunities with which we are presented.
Thank you for your collective enthusiasm on moving our mission forward!
Alejandra Postlethwaite, MD, DFAACAP