The Bulgarian Psychiatric Association (BPA) was founded in 1992 in response to the need to do away with the image of psychiatry as an agency for control over the mental life of the individuals.
Main goals of the BPA, as stated in its Statutes and By-laws, are: i/ To reach the common preserving differences in the name of purity and the prestige of the profession, for the welfare of its members and the society; ii/ To assist in improving the mental health and psychiatric care in Bulgaria; iii/ To forward the independent and full of dignity practice of the psychiatric profession; iv/ To foster and demand high professional standards in the curative, educational, research, and other professional activity; v/ To advance the principles of international organizations such as UN, its specialized bodies, the WMA, the WPA, concerning human rights, medical ethics and the standards of the psychiatric profession.
Main governing body is the General Assembly, held yearly, and consisting of delegates from all regional organizations on quorum principle. The members of the BPA are 304 psychiatrists. The General Assembly elects the members of the other governing bodies: Board of Trustees, Executive Board, Control Committee, and Ethical Committee. Currently, in the Executive Board are: President - Prof. Vladimir Velinov, Ph.D., President - Elect - Dr. Peter Marinov, Immediate Past - President - Dr. Liubomir Zhivkov, Secretary - Dr. Galabina Tarashoeva, Treasurer - Dr. Vladimir Nakov.
Annual Conferences are held regularly, as well as, in cooperation with other organizations, regional meetings and/or conferences. A programme for continuous medical education for psychiatrists with credits from educational courses and workshops at these meetings, has recently started. The BPA collaborates in the field of education with the University departments of psychiatry, and experts from BPA are the main promoters in updating the curriculum for medical students and the programme for post-graduate training in psychiatry, especially in the Medical University in Sofia. The BPA does rarely so far generate own scientific activities but often serves as an institutional base for scientific projects in the mental health field. Ethical activities are, from its foundation, among the priorities of the BPA. A basic book with international instruments on medical and psychiatric ethics was published in Bulgarian in 1994. As an expression of the ongoing efforts of the BPA to improve the ethical standards of our profession, an as a reminder to this, the Madrid Declaration (from 1996 on) of the WPA are routinely published on the last page of every issue of the Bulletin of the BPA. New and updated international documents concerning ethical problems in psychiatry are regularly translated into Bulgarian and disseminated. Patients' rights' concerns are fundamental for the ongoing psychiatric reform in Bulgaria, and discussions on this issue are common topics at the Annual Conferences, and among our members.
The Bulletin of the BPA is the official periodical of the BPA, and a main means for communication among the psychiatrists in the country. It is published in 4 issues per year. The Publication Programme of the BPA succeeds in translation, editing, and publishing some 4-5 books yearly, usually basic, internationally recognized manuals for mental health professionals, including nurses, social workers, and psychologists.