WAIMH Executive Director Corner

Photo: WAIMH Executive Director, Kaija Puura

Dear colleagues and friends,

As I am writing this the fall semester at our University has started and our Medical Building Arvo is filled with young people eager to get back to their studies. Seeing the crowded hallways reminded me of the WAIMH Dublin Congress in July, as the Dublin Convention Centre was just as packed with Congress delegates. The ambience at the Dublin Congress was equally joyful and the eagerness of the delegates to hear, learn and participate in discussion was really tangible. It was such a joy to see colleagues and friends from all over the world after so many years, and the only damper was that – once again – there was so much happening and there were so many people to see that the days just flew by. Our Irish hosts and the city of Dublin really showed us their hospitality, even though the weather was not always the best. The Program Committee led by Elisabeth Hoehn had managed to create a truly diverse and high-quality program where many of the big, global issues concerning Infant Mental Health were addressed in various sessions. From the WAIMH Office’s point of view collaboration with the Local Organizing Committee, Program Committee and the Professional Conference Organizer InConference was a real pleasure from the beginning to the very end, and all the people who had worked so hard through the years to make the Dublin Congress such a success also deserve our heartfelt thanks here.

In some ways both the World Congress and the two meetings of the WAIMH Board of Directors made me feel that WAIMH as an organization is changing in many ways. In Rome in 2018 I gave a short talk at the opening ceremony with the title from Bob Dylan’s song…” For the times, they are a-changing…” The times have indeed changed, and not always for the better. However, as my Karelian grandmother used to say: “ei mittää nii pahhaa, ettei jottai hyvvää”, meaning that even when something bad happens, something good can come out of it – a very typical example of the Karelian mindset. During the Congress and in the Board meeting the question was raised of how we in WAIMH can respond to need in various crisis areas in the world, and I believe that some very good and concrete ideas for actions were put forward in the symposium “The role of WAIMH in global crises situation”. Another very topical theme at the Congress and for WAIMH are the principles of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). WAIMH, too, needs to think about what the principles mean to us and how we can help ensure fair treatment and opportunity for all, and do our share to eradicate prejudice and discrimination on the basis of an individual’s or group’s protected characteristics. One of the big questions is how we can better help countries and cultures with poorer resources get their voices heard and themselves represented in WAIMH. And last but not least, a very welcome question posed to WAIMH was whether we should develop a code of ethics that would provide more guidance to clinicians working within Infant Mental Health.

WAIMH has a lot of work to do in the future, and we need to think how we must change and grow in order for us to rise to the challenge. However, I have great confidence in all of us working in Infant Mental Health and in WAIMH. We are “baby people” and together we can truly make a difference. Next year from 5 to 7 June, 2024 we will hold an Interim World Congress of WAIMH in Tampere, Finland in order to get us back to even years with the World Congresses. The speakers will all be by invitation, but we will send out a call-for-posters, and you are all warmly welcome to come to Tampere as delegates! Please go to www.waimh.org to see our little video on the Congress venue and the city of Tampere and join us in further discussions on how we can better help babies and their families.

With warm wishes to you all,