Letter From Our President 

Ziv Cohen, M.D.
2017 - 2018 ASAP President

I am thrilled and honored to have been elected the 50th President of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry.  As an organization, ASAP has an impressive history of supporting training, education, and the professional development of psychiatrists who provide care for adolescents.  The leadership of ASAP has steered the organization through fifty tumultuous and exciting years in the history of psychiatry, and I am deeply mindful of my debt to them.  I am also grateful to the outgoing president, Dr. Lopez Leon, for his outstanding contributions to the organization.  As a psychiatrist who treats adolescents and as an ASAP member, I am convinced that ASAP’s mission is more relevant now than ever.

When ASAP was founded in 1967, the mental health community was becoming more aware of the unique needs of adolescents as persons transitioning from childhood to adulthood.  The development of identity, values, and mature relationships became more clearly recognized as tasks inherent to adolescence and which might require clinical attention.  Since the 1960s, evidence of the biological corollaries of these psychological observations has accumulated through neuroscientific insights into ongoing and significant development of the adolescent brain.

Since the 1960s, more evidence has come to light supporting the importance of addressing adolescent  mental health.  Many disorders, such as mood and anxiety disorders, attention disorders, substance use disorders, and psychotic disorders, often begin in adolescence.  This too has been correlated with changes in brain functioning during adolescence, such as synaptic pruning.  Early intervention is essential in reducing later morbidity from psychiatric illness and improving outcomes across the lifespan.

In the last decade, emerging adulthood has become an area of research and social concern, as it has become the norm for young persons to spend their twenties developing identity, relationships, and vocational goals.  Neuroscience research has confirmed the brain continues to develop well into the twenties.  In last year’s ASAP annual meeting we chose to focus on topic.  We had lectures, for example, on anxiety disorders, gender dysphoria, and treatment resistant depression in emerging adults.

I therefore strongly believe that adolescent psychiatry as a field is essential not only to psychiatrists and our patients but for society as a whole, which has a stake in the wellbeing of those persons who represent our future.  As the only organization in psychiatry solely devoted to the mental health of adolescents, ASAP is an indispensable organization.

In the coming year, I look forward to working with the Governing Board and ASAP members to build on last year’s conference, expand educational opportunities provided by ASAP to our members on the local and national level, and welcome colleagues from psychology and social work into our community so that we can learn and grow together to foster adolescent mental health.  I am excited by the prospect of collaborating with old colleagues and forging new relationships personally and organizationally towards our shared goal:  improving the well being of adolescents and young adults.

Sincerely Yours,

Ziv E. Cohen, M.D.