WAIMH ED’s Corner

Photo: WAIMH Executive Director, Kaija Puura

Dear colleagues and friends,

Summer has passed here in the Northern hemisphere and we are starting to prepare for winter – hoping it won´t be too cold. This year we´ve had unusually high temperatures with drought here in Europe while other countries like Pakistan are suffering from floods, and yet others have had major wildfires. As our President Campbell Paul writes in his column: “Across the globe there is intensification of conflicts and war, natural disasters, climate change and long-standing social and racial inequalities. Infants are especially vulnerable in these circumstances”. Helping infants and young children to develop a sense of safety and supporting their mental health globally, and particularly in war conditions, is a big task for us all.

Here in Finland we have an official called the Ombudsman for Children. It is an autonomous and independent authority that promotes the realization of the rights and best interest of children. Each year since 2018 the Ombudsman for Children has organized telephone interviews of 400 six-year-olds on some current topics affecting children. The children are randomly selected from all parts of the country, and informed consent for the interview is asked for both from the parents at the beginning of the phone call and then from the children. The six-year-olds have proven to be good informants and almost all have enjoyed being interviewed. The results have been published each year in the Lapsibarometri (Child Barometer) report. This year’s topic was safety. According to the children’s responses, safety meant the presence of familiar people and things in their everyday life. The full report with more detailed results will be published in December this year.

Most of Finnish six-year-olds live in safe and stable conditions. However, it probably does not surprise any of us, that results from studies with young children affected by armed conflicts or natural disasters also emphasize the importance of parents for children’s wellbeing. Secure attachment to parents seems to increase resilience in young children (Al-Yagon et al., 2022). Parents’ presence in frightening situations, their reassurance and support in dealing with fear and anxiety and possibilities for playing seem to reduce children’s fears (Paryente & Kalush, 2020). Delvecchio et al. (2020) studied the coping strategies of preschool children during the Covid-19 pandemic. They found that young children sought affection from the parents, seemed to accept the situation and also wanted to avoid talking about the virus or pandemic. In her paper, Sudeshna Chatterjee, (2018) emphasizes the significance of play for children’s coping, adaptation and resilience in situations of crisis. In a nutshell, in all crisis situations the presence of at least one parent or other secure attachment figure, daily routines and possibilities for play should be provided to all infants and young children. Many papers on scientific and clinical knowledge, and examples of how families have been supported have been published in the abstract books of earlier WAIMH World congresses, the Infant Mental Health Journal and in Perspectives for Infant Mental Health, resources that we all can utilize.

The 18th WAIMH World Congress to be held from 15–19th July, 2023 in Dublin, Ireland is now less than a year away. The submission of abstracts is now open until 14th of October, 2022. This time we have separate submission portals for scientific and clinical abstracts. We hope that this solution will encourage researchers and clinicians to submit their work for the Congress. We also aim to make it clearer in the Congress Program which presentations are research presentations and which are clinical. The Office staff is working together with the Local Organizing Committee chairs Catherine Maguire and Audrey Lonergan and the professional congress organizer InConference concerning the practicalities and management of the World Congress. Our main priority is to get the registration portal opened very soon. At the Dublin Congress we will continue our Sponsor a Delegate tradition that started at the Cape Town Congress. You can support the participation of our colleagues from low and middle low income countries easily when you register for Dublin.

I am also really happy to be able to tell you that the first volume of the WAIMH eBook is now being finalized and will be published soon. The members of the eBook project group, WAIMH Past President Miri Keren, Maree Foley, Deborah Weatherston, Patricia O´Rourke and Kaija Puura are already working on the second volume. The WAIMH eBooks are based on articles from issues of The Signal and Perspectives in Infant Mental Health that the group has chosen on different themes to form chapters of the eBooks. The members of the eBook group have written short synopses of the chosen articles and supplemented the chapters with introduction and conclusion sections. We hope that this way you can make better use of Perspectives and enjoy reading papers from many great names in WAIMH history.

With warm wishes to you all,




Al-Yagon, M., Garbi, L., & Rich, Y. (2022). Children’s resilience to ongoing border attacks: the role of father.

Chatterjee, S. (2018). Children’s coping, adaptation and resilience through play in situations of crisis. Children, Youth and Environments, 28(2), 119-145. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublication?journalCode=chilyoutenvi

Delvecchio, E., Orgilés, M., Morales, A., Espada, J. P., Francisco, R., Pedro, M., & Mazzeschi, C. (2022). COVID-19: Psychological symptoms and coping strategies in preschoolers, schoolchildren, and adolescents. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 79, 101390.

Paryente, B., & Kalush, M. G. (2020). The subjective experiences and reactions of kindergarten children during and after a period of continuous missile attacks. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 13(4), 481-492.