Dear Colleagues

Céad Míle Fáilte: A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Preparations are well underway for our WAIMH 18th World Congress for Infant Mental Health in Dublin City in July 2023. We are excitedly looking forward to you joining us in Dublin, by the historic and enchanting River Liffey to meet together and talk about our work with infants and their families.

The congress theme, Early Relationships Matter: Advancing Practice, Policy and Research in Infant Mental Health reinforces the importance of each of the key three pillars of infant mental health in supporting what matters, the health and well-being of infants within the context of relationships. Our hosts, the Irish Association for Infant Mental Health, chaired by Catherine Maguire and Audrey Lonergan, have arranged for us to meet at the spectacular Convention Centre Dublin in the historic docks district. The Convention Centre Dublin is a state-of-the-art facility, with plenty of room, views and extremely generous open spaces to accommodate safe social distancing at the conference.

Dublin is also a UNESCO City of Literature and I’m sure that we will be inspired by the richness and the culture of the Irish as we enter the inner world of babies and explore the complexity of the process of becoming a parent. Irish poets for generations have been able to convey the excitement, the wonder and the tragedy that lies behind the human condition and inform our understanding of infants as persons in their own right. I believe we will be inspired to share our own thoughts and ideas arising from our clinical work, our research and creativity. With my Scottish heritage and family who emigrated to Australia from Glasgow just across the Irish Sea, I am really looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about how families understand and support their infants from the very many diverse cultures which will be represented at the Congress. There were many young parents and prospective parents who left the shores of their homeland never to see their own parents and extended family again. What was the experience for the baby born of their parents who arrived in a new distant land?

This will be an important Congress at which we can apply our reflective capacities in understanding more about the impact upon infants and families of the major crises currently raging around the world: crises such as major conflicts and war, the displacement of millions of people, poverty, the impact of climate change and of the Covid-19 pandemic.

WAIMH is committed to supporting the sharing of knowledge and training opportunities around the world, as in our recent joint enterprise with Infant Early Mental Health Promotion, Toronto in delivering a generous series of seminars. We hope that this Congress will be another opportunity to join with our colleagues from both countries which are well resourced to those that are less well-resourced in advancing our clinical services policy development and importantly advancing advocacy for infants and families with governments and those developing policy.

We will continue our theme of infants’ rights and how we must acknowledge and support babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers facing serious stress and social, emotional and developmental disorders.

The Scientific Program Committee, Elisabeth Hoehn (Australia), David Oppenheim (Israel), Reija Latva (Finland), Catherine Maguire (Ireland), Holly Brophy-Herb (USA) and Jane Barlow (United Kingdom), is putting together a wonderful programme of plenary speakers, state-of-the-art lectures, special lectures, and masterclass presentations. We are anticipating that you will be inspired by your work, and to share your thoughts ideas and findings with your colleagues and to submit your work in either of the scientific or clinical presentation streams.

As President of the Board of directors of WAIMH, I would also like to thank very much Kaija Puura and Reija Latva, and the administrative officers, Minna Sorsa and Neea-Leena Aalto, from the WAIMH office in Tampere, Finland, and each of your Board directors who work tirelessly from Congress to Congress.

I know the Local Organising Committee in Ireland has been very busy arranging the venue facilities and networking throughout Ireland and beyond to make sure we have our wonderful and successful Congress.

To be sure, I’m sure we will all be made to feel extremely welcome at the Congress in Dublin, and we will learn of new ways to welcome infants and very young children into our exciting but complex world. The hospitality of the Irish is legendary, and you will enjoy the welcome reception in the Congress dinner in dazzling Dublin.

I look forward to seeing you soon in Dublin come July 2023!

Campbell Paul
Melbourne, Australia
President of WAIMH

Banba's Crown Tower
Kylemore Abbey, County Galway
St Patrick's Quay on river Lee. Cork
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