The new President of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) has started his four year term (2020-24). The WAIMH Board of Directors elected the new President-Elect Astrid Berg (2020-24) in their recent online biannual meeting.
President Campbell Paul
The new President of the WAIMH is Campbell Paul (Assoc Prof, MBBS, FRANZCP, Cert Child Adol Child Psych) from the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Campbell Paul has worked as a consultant infant psychiatrist, particularly working with sick babies and their families. At the University of Melbourne, Campbell Paul has been teaching in a Masters course in infant mental health. Campbell Paul has experience of training clinicians in Australia and overseas. He has been involved in the establishment and development of the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health and linking with the Australasian Marcé Society and perinatal psychiatry colleagues.
Campbell Paul has been longstanding member of WAIMH, with his first WAIMH Congress 1989 in Lugano, Switzerland: “WAIMH has an extremely important role to play in securing real improvement in the mental health outcomes for infants and families throughout the world. As the peak world body we must continue our role in providing leadership in infant mental health, supporting policy development, research, training and improvement in direct clinical services for infants very young children and their families.”
President-Elect Astrid Berg
The new President-Elect of WAIMH is Astrid Berg (MBChB, Pret; FFPsych, SA; MPhil, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry), who is a Psychiatrist, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist as well as a Jungian Analyst. She is an Emerita A/Professor at the University of Cape Town and A/Professor Extraordinary at the Stellenbosch University. She is the founder of the Western Cape Association for Infant Mental Health and was for 18 years the lead consultant at the University of Cape Town’s Parent-Infant Mental Health Service. During the past 5 years she has been involved in the establishment and the co-convening of the Master’s Programme for Infant Mental Health at Stellenbosch University. This is the first academic degree of its kind in Africa, and has drawn students from a diverse professional, language and cultural backgrounds.
Her association with WAIMH started in 1996 when she attended the 6th World Congress in Tampere in Finland. She presented a poster which depicted the beginning of her Infant Mental Health work in an informal settlement near Cape Town.
What is the role of WAIMH for the future?
Astrid Berg sees that Covid-19 pandemic affects infants in ways that may not be that visible to health organizations. WAIMH and its Affiliates needs to add to the public health awareness that this virus has a direct and significant impact on the mental lives of infants and children. While they may not in general succumb to the illness itself, they will suffer the most from its devastating consequences on the adults around them: “We need to make public and to add to public health awareness the impact of this pandemic on the mental health of infants and young children; we need to give words to what the infants are living through, but not able to articulate.”
Astrid Berg sees that WAIMH has an enormous responsibility to members and to infants worldwide, to work together, to be open to the ‘other’, realizing more than ever before our shared humanity – that we are all equally vulnerable.- “WAIMH is committed to the infant, and the infant demands of us to act and behave in ways that, in the end, should make the world a better place.”