Dr. Vincent Agyapong Embraces New Challenge as Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University

23 July 2021

Dr. Vincent Agyapong, a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta and Edmonton Zone Clinical Section Chief for Community Mental Health with Alberta Health Services, is taking on a new challenge.

Effective Sept. 5th, Dr. Agyapong will become the new Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He’ll also assume the role of Central Zone Clinical Department Head for the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

“I’ve been in Alberta for eight years, including three years in Fort McMurray and five years in Edmonton, and it has been nothing but absolutely fulfilling. But when you’ve been in a role for some time, as I have, you begin to ask what is next, and this opportunity at Dalhousie best meets my career goals and aspirations,” says Dr. Agyapong.

“The support I have received from AHS operational leaders across the zones, and from the Department of Psychiatry has been incredible. I don’t know if I could have done most of the things that I’ve done here without people in the department like (former Chair) Dr. Xin-Min Li and (Associate Chair) Dr. Andy Greenshaw,” he adds.

“Sometimes you have lots of ideas and energy, but knowing that there are people who truly and genuinely support you and want you to succeed is really what makes the difference.”

For his part, Dr. Greenshaw says Dr. Agyapong has made an enormous contribution to both the department and the field of mental health during his years in Alberta.

“Vincent Agyapong is a remarkable person, a highly valued friend and colleague, and a rising star in global mental health research. The successes of Vincent and his team include improving accessibility to mental health services in several AHS regional zones and decreasing wait times for Psychiatrist assessments and interventions. This exceptional Physician is a clinician-scientist who has received notable awards from his peers and from the community, and is dedicated to promoting diversity in the inter-professional workspace as a very effective mentor and thought leader,” he says.

“This Department of Psychiatry has been very fortunate to host his recent growth and development. We wish him every success as he moves on to provide Psychiatry leadership for communities in the Maritimes and as academic head of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University.”
Dr. Agyapong isn’t severing all ties with Edmonton or the Department of Psychiatry. He expects to remain a Clinical Professor in the department while continuing to supervise three Graduate Program students and three Postdoctoral researchers.

“Leading my research projects and supporting the students virtually is not a problem,” he explains.

Indeed, Dr. Agyapong – who has won multiple awards over the years for launching such innovative supportive text messaging services as Text4Mood and Text4Hope, targeting patients struggling with Depression and Anxiety – recently secured nearly $1 million in new research funding from Alberta Innovates.

The project, which encompasses all three AHS zones, will build on the ongoing research of his PhD student Rehman Shalabi, and will attempt to assess the value of combining peer support and supportive text messaging to reduce hospital readmission rates for patients discharged from Alberta’s acute Psychiatric units and now living in the community.
“There are also various other supportive text messaging programs still going on in Alberta, including the new Text4PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury) program which is set to launch this month. I’ll be supervising Master’s student Gloria Obuobi-Donkorso on that project, so I’m not going to disappear,” he notes.

“It is funded by the Government of Alberta and like Text4Hope, it involves providing supportive text message interventions to address Post-Traumatic Stress injury symptoms.”

As for his pending move to Halifax, he plans to take his first look at his new home in August, before formally taking up his new duties Sept. 5th.

“I’ve never been to Halifax or to Dalhousie before, so it’s all going to be pretty new. I’m planning on taking a two-week vacation just to see the city and to plan where I’m going to live before I formally move there in September.”

But he says he is already thinking about his new role and the many opportunities it will present.

“Becoming the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie is a wonderful opportunity to expand my knowledge and advance my career in terms of health services leadership as well as in research and education,” he says.

One initiative Dr. Agyapong intends to pursue at Dalhousie is to establish a Centre for Global Mental Health, in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry at the U of A.

“I’m hoping that it’s not just going to be focused on Ghana, where we have already established relationships and created training opportunities for future Psychiatrists. I’d like to expand it to other low and middle-income countries,” he says.

“I’m hoping that once I settle in at Dalhousie and we have the Centre set up we’ll be able to work together on this collaborative initiative between Dalhousie and the Department of Psychiatry here at the U of A. I think that could be very exciting for both institutions.”