Reflection on the WAIMH Congress 2023, By Patricia O’Rourke, Associate Editor (Australia)

Photo: Kandace Thomas, Catherine Maguire, Elisabeth Hoehn, Audrey Lonergan, Colette Murray, Salisha Maharaj, and Lynette Aytch at the WAIMH 2023 Pre-Congress Institute. Credit: WAIMH

Pre-Congress Institute: Embracing Diversity Informed Practice in Infant Mental Health across the Globe

Dr Colette Murray, Technological University Dublin
Dr Elisabeth Hoehn, Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health
Salisha Maharaj, Tygerberg Hospital
Dr Juané Voges, Stellenbosch University
Dr Chaya Kulkarni, Infant Mental Health Promotion, Sickkids

Dr Kandace Thomas, Memphis, United States
Dr Lynette Aytch, Washington, USA

Across the Globe was a six-hour interactive workshop immediately before the opening session of the Congress. Based on principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, the four presentations from South Africa, Canada, Australia and Ireland focused participants’ attention on the need for critical self-awareness when working within diverse multicultural communities.

The ongoing encouragement from our facilitators to locate ourselves first and foremost in our work reminds us that ‘how we are is as important as what we do’; that ‘intentionality, accountability and responsibility’ are inseparable and the notion that infant mental health work is fundamentally ‘social justice work’ are gems I’m left to reflect on, as are these simple questions: who am I? why am I here? and what am I to do?

It was a wonderful start to the Congress: so much warmth – so wonderful to feel surrounded by so many different ethnicities and nationalities – and to know everyone there is focused on the best way forward for the babies in their lives.


Patricia O'Rourke,
Perspectives IMH Associate Editor,