WAIMH members and representatives and especially members of affiliates have been motivated for some time to develop WAIMH as an organization. The joint wish has been to make WAIMH an ever more democratic, transparent and efficient world organization with active members around the world. As stated in our bylaws, the aims of WAIMH are strong and clearly articulated and because they are based on science and humanistic values; there is no need to change them. But the organizational structure of WAIMH is unique and challenging; WAIMH is not an hierarchical association, it is more like a modern network of people who want to have international collaborations and impacts.
WAIMH, as all democratic associations, is owned by its members and the members have the strongest power in the association’s decision making. Voting in elections for WAIMH officers and representatives is naturally the way by which all members can use their power. But WAIMH also has affiliate associations, which in turn are owned by their members. Collectively, there are more members of Affiliate associations than there are members of WAIMH. This reality often creates confusion and misunderstanding.
WAIMH’s Board of Directors has worked quite intensively to develop a plan for structural changes. The Board has a joint vision in which affiliates will have more power and a clearer status or position in the organization. This vision will be reached step by step if WAIMH members agree with the Board of Directors recommendations. Of course, if the number of affiliate members who become members of WAIMH increases, the transition towards the proposed reorganization will proceed much more quickly.
One of WAIMH’s most important strengths is the fact that we are a multi-professional, multidisciplinary and multicultural association. Among the WAIMH members there are high-quality researchers and senior clinicians as well as trainers and trainees, there are professionals from different kinds of organizations and sectors and different professions from different cultures. We all are needed in promoting infant mental health across the world.
The spectrum of memberships is even richer and broader in affiliates than in WAIMH. However, the number of members in WAIMH has been quite steady over the last years although the number of affiliates and affiliate members has increased dramatically. In order to have a more diverse affiliate voice in WAIMH discussions we need more active people who want to work at both national affiliate and international WAIMH levels. Still we all need to remember that only those who are WAIMH members have and will have real power in WAIMH. This is how democratic associations are build up and how they operate.
And so, I urge you to use your power and in order to proceed to support the proposed changes in the bylaws. Each current WAIMH member will be receiving a copy of the proposed restructured bylaws in November.
Tuula Tamminen, M.D.