President's Message

Erika F. H. Saunders, M.D.

Hello and welcome to the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry (AACDP)! We are living in a most important time of development for the field of psychiatry. As we have experienced several years of a global pandemic, we now face economic and social challenges that have strained our multi-cultural society, while gaining important new ways to connect. The good news is that our field has responded to these and other societal, medical and scientific challenges with incredible innovation. From the explosion of neuroscientific discoveries, to the burgeoning field of personalized assessment and treatment approaches, to implementing new ways of delivering clinical and community care, we have embraced a myriad of tools in creating pathways to improve mental health. Against this backdrop, one of our most important shared responsibilities is creating successful environments for learning the foundational and clinical sciences necessary to train the mental health workforce of the future.

The AACDP is a vibrant organization for chairs and vice chairs that fosters conversations about this and more.

The AACDP mission is to advance medicine and the practice of psychiatry through strengthening its membership by enhancing the skills and effectiveness of leaders, providing a forum for the development and exchange of ideas and information, promoting excellence in psychiatric education, research, and clinical care, and advocating for health policy to create appropriate psychiatric care for all.

Our outreach includes connections to sister professional organizations including the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), American Psychiatric Association (APA), Association of Academic Psychiatry (AAP), mental-health focused federal government agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Mental Health, and national educational leadership organizations such as the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry (ADMSEP), American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training (AADPRT), the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). In conjunction with the AAP, AADPRT and ADMSEP, we support the premier journal Academic Psychiatry (

AACDP Membership includes access to society meetings, professional development opportunities and town halls, and a subscription to Academic Psychiatry.

I look forward to growing and to developing this network in support of the outstanding leaders in our field. I want to thank the past leaders of this organization, including our most recent outgoing president Dr. Jair Soares, chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Houston.


Erika F. H. Saunders, M.D.
President, AACDP
Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Clinical Co-Director, Addiction Center for Translation
Director, Mood Disorder Program
Penn State College of Medicine
Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

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