The Nordic countries – Denmark, Norway and Sweden – each have a relatively small population, totaling around 20 million. Reflecting the three individual countries differences in political structures, in social systems and in policies, the Nordic Association of Infant Mental Health, NAIMH, or NFSU in Scandinavian, is a diverse affiliate. The total membership of NAIMH fluctuates from around 200 to 350 members. Each country is responsible for hosting activities for their members and takes turns in organizing annual conferences.
The Structure of NAIMH
Members elect board members for two years, with the option to be re-elected for two more years. The term of office is limited in time to ensure that all countries are represented in an equal manner. The President or Chairperson is elected, whereas the positions of Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer (the latter for each country) are decided by the elected board. The board consists of two representatives from each country, enabling a rich exchange of ideas and inspiration from the different parts of Scandinavia. The position as Chair alternates between the countries.
Communication with the Members
The President is responsible for the publication of bi-monthly newsletters. Recently the affiliations’ website underwent an overhaul and is now the most effective and up-to-date manner in which to communicate with the members. https://www.nfsu.org Occasionally a guestblogger is invited to add an interesting glimpse into his or her professional world. But mostly the site is used for information on seminars, training, conferences and happenings worldwide as well as book reviews, updates on research articles. We even have a twitter account linked to the website with frequent «tweets» by the current President – @BarnPsykologen – as well as the current Secretary – @HanneCB.
The idea of a Nordic network was first presented at the Lugano WAIMHconference in 1989. When a handful of Infant Mental Health professionals got together in Sweden in 1991, they launched the Nordic Association for Infant Mental Health or NFSU in Scandinavian. One of the early aims was to establish a connection with the international body of infant research and professional training programmes. That year, the group presented the idea of a Nordic network at the WAIMH Congress in Chicago and received a very warm welcome. NFSU/ NAIMH was one of the very first affiliates to be a part of WAIMH, and the connection with WAIMH remains a strong one. We encourage our members to take up dual memberships whenever possible. NFSU/NAIMH also continues to seek out ways to collaborate with other national organizations. For example, in Sweden, the “Psychologists in MCH-care”, and in Norway, Regional Centers for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (the R-BUP/ the RKBU), along with others. The aim to be a part of the international infant mental health world is imperative to us. We seek collaboration and exchange in a multitude of ways, whether it is on a more formal level, in the area of training, in the field of research or more personal contacts and meetings with fellow professionals and friends within the network and around the world.
Annual National Infant Mental Health (IMH)Conferences
NFSU has organized and held two-day IMH conferences each year since the Nordic network was formed. The three member countries take turns in planning and hosting the conferences, making it easier for all members from the various areas of Scandinavia to attend.
Our most recent NFSU conference was held in Bergen, Norway, with approx. 100 in attendance. Since our 20th jubilee conference in Copenhagen where Antoine Guedeney gave an honorary talk, the opening plenaries are held in English, followed by presentations in the Scandinavian languages the second day. The Scandinavian languages – Norwegian, Danish and Swedish- although distinct from one another, can be fairly easily understood by each of the different nationalities! This way the presenters may choose which language they are most comfortable with presenting in, while opening up the conferences for nonScandinavian speakers. To our delight our colleagues in Finland and Iceland, attend in greater numbers. It has also enabled the board to increase the collaboration with WAIMH, and to work together with sponsors to offer interesting and important keynotes from distinguished colleagues in the field. At last year conference in Stockholm, Miri Keren honored us with an inspiring and heartfelt talk on her work. This year in Bergen, Zack Boukydis graced us with his presence, giving a presentation on his seminal work with neonates illustrated in Collaboration and Collaboration with Infants and their parents.
As Lynn Priddis highlighted when introducing us to the Australian affiliate model, the Nordic conferences are governed by the context in which they occur with each committee who organizes the event adding local color to the meetings. In Bergen we travelled high up in the mountains by funicular to enjoy a lovely Norwegian meal high above the fjords. In Stockholm we looked out on the sea covered in glistening snow and ice while listening to our colleagues. And in Copenhagen we celebrated twenty years of IMH network in Scandinavia with a theatre piece and an introduction to our honorary members.
When looking at the NFSU/NAIMH website, www.nfsu.org, one can tell there is a lot of activity going on (one can only read it if one is fluent in Scandinavian.. we are working on an English version…). The board hosts events throughout the year for the members, but also encourages members to create their own events, seminars etc. The board has also initiated events inviting non-members to join as a way to enroll more members. Here we may collaborate with other members of WAIMH to offer lectures, and we also occasionally co-host events with the national Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Divisions and regional universities. We call these gatherings “NFSU-cafés” and they can center around almost any relevant topic members initiate. Most recently Helen Minnis came to Stockholm to inform members on the current state of research regarding Reactive Attachment Disorder, member Marianne Velandia presented her important thesis on skin-to-skin after Cesaerean deliveries etc. Another example on how the network has been useful to its members is the arranging of a preconference meeting of the colleagues who work within the neonatal wards.
As previously mentioned, NAIMH values the close collaboration with WAIMH. Most recently this resulted in the arrangement of a training seminar, in the use of the Alarm Distress Baby Scale (ADBB). Antoine Guedeney, along with members from Norway, gave the training that resulted in a number of newly certified coders primarily in Norway, but also in Sweden. We actively promote the use of the internet to enable communication, one such being the closed Facebook group for affiliate board members just established following the affiliate meeting in Cape Town.
I would like to invite you all to our next annual conference, which will be hosted by the Danish branch of NAIMH, with our very promising and enthusiastic organizing committee based in Copenhagen. The preliminary dates are March 7-8, 2014. Mark it in your Calendar! Wishing you a very warm welcome to Scandinavia.
Nordic Association for Infant Mental Health,