Greetings and thank you for being a part of the Association of Women Psychiatrists! We are honored to have so many esteemed members in our ranks, and we cherish the opportunity to connect with you through these newsletters.
For these two years as AWP president (2021-2023), I propose a unifying theme of
Connection and Belonging. In this new “normal,” as we await more definitive progress in the
pandemic, we have all experienced the world in challenging ways – from a sense of isolation or
disconnection, to loss and mourning, and certainly for all an overwhelming uncertainty about
what the future holds. It seems almost every day there is a new challenge! Yet with challenge
comes opportunity, and opportunity brings hope.
The everyday struggle and our work as physicians – the baseline before COVID threw layers
of complexity upon us – remains. We still have generations of people struggling with anxiety,
depression, and trauma. We still have the epidemic of loneliness that preceded the pandemic,
perhaps even more acute now for those who find themselves alone in isolation. The anxiety we
help manage has become more intense for many as they struggle to handle the additional
challenges brought about by a global pandemic. Lack of childcare, limited resources, financial
strain, distance from loved ones, and loss of loved ones are just a few of the challenges we have
faced. Simultaneously, we are removed from some of our most helpful coping mechanisms and
find ourselves reworking what it means to cope, to manage, and to integrate our lives with our
work. For working mothers, of which there are many in our membership, there are the
disproportionate domestic responsibilities women take on to ensure the household continues to
function. We find ourselves reaching new levels of resilience we didn’t know we had! I can’t tell
you how many women superheroes I have witnessed over the course of the last 1.5 years, fighting
the fight with what they’ve got and adapting to each new challenge that comes along.
For those among us who also experience bias, who deal with racism, sexism, and other forms
of discrimination, we have witnessed the fueling of a growing social unrest, a mounting desire to
address the inequities that plague the systems in which we live and work. It is herein that I find
hope. With attention and resources to address discrimination and hate, we may arrive at policies
and behaviors that can effect real change. Change is a slow process – but one that must
continue despite inevitable frustration, disappointment, and even disillusionment. We must
summon up our strength to fight and be the change – because without advocacy and persistence,
we are accepting injustice.
In this newsletter, you will find themes of wellness and support, trauma and resilience, and
inspiration from women who have lived through horrific adversity and emerged whole through
perseverance. I hope you will enjoy reading the contributions as much as I did!
I would like to send a sincere thank you to all of our members and the AWP Executive
Council who so tirelessly and generously give to others and are
dedicated to advancing women’s mental health. Your ongoing
support through AWP dues helps us continue to provide a forum for
networking and connectedness among women psychiatrists. In our
social connections, we find meaning, and in meaning we find a sense
of belonging – one of the most powerful antidotes to uncertainty.
Christina Tara Khan, MD, PhD