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Candidate Jane Barlow
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President Elect Candidate

Jane Barlow,Professor of Evidence-Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation, University of Oxford, President of AIMH UK, WAIMH Affiliates Representative



Jane Barlow (DPhil, FFPH Hon) is Professor of Evidence Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford. Jane’s research focuses on developing and evaluating interventions during the perintal period that are aimed at promoting infant mental health. She also undertakes research to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at preventing child abuse. She is currently President of AIMH UK, Affiliate Council Representative of the Executive Board of WAIMH,  an Associate Editor for the Infant Mental Health Journal, and was a member of PreVAiL (Preventing Violence Across the Lifespan).  


Nomination letter for WAIMH President-Elect position

I would like to submit my nomination for President-elect to the Board of Directors of WAIMH.

My nomination has come at an extraordinarily difficult time in our history, but it is also a time that has helped us to realise the many things that we have in common across our geographical borders, not least of which is our vulnerability. And it is, of course, the vulnerability of the youngest members of our societies that unites us in terms of our interests as members of WAIMH, and that concerns us in terms of the secondary impact of COVID-19. How can we make the voices of the youngest members of our societies heard by our governments and policy makers? How can we support the mental health needs of the frontline infant mental health clinicians and practitioners who continue to find ways to prioritise the needs of our most vulnerable babies?  And what are the long-term lessons of this pandemic for infant mental health?

Over the forty years since its inception in 1980, WAIMH has become the world leading organisation changing things on the ground for babies in terms of protecting and promoting their mental health. During this time, WAIMH has established affiliates in over 60 countries, all of whom work to change policy and practice relating to infant mental health locally. Along with the Michigan Association of Infant Mental Health, it has established and continues to support the Infant Mental Health Journal (IMHJ), which is now one of the leading scientific journals disseminating the findings or research and advances in clinical practice and training relating to infancy; and the seminal WAIMH Position Paper on the Rights of Infants produced by Miri Keren, was the first ever such paper to focus explicitly on babies, building on and extending the work of other international organisations such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child.

And WAIMH will continue its seminal role in promoting infant mental health globally throughout this crisis by providing access to trustworthy sources of information about parenting during the pandemic for both professionals and families, and contributing to the crisis by deferring its much-anticipated biennial congress in Brisbane, and focusing instead on identifying new ways of working and contributing to our understanding about its secondary impact on infants and clinical practice. As President of AIMH UK at the time that the UK hosted its first ever biennial world congress in Edinburgh, I discovered first-hand the energy that can emerge when passion and excellence come together across the globe; one of the unintended outcomes of this pandemic will be the opportunity that it provides us with to establish how this energy can now be generated using other ways of coming together.

And this crisis has perhaps served to remind us of the seminal role that WAIMH plays in terms of developing clinical practice and training, globally. At the Rome Congress, I was elected to represent the Affiliates on the WAIMH Executive, and have since then under the excellent guidance of Anna Huber, learned how to be an active member of the WAIMH executive, and how to work with the WAIMH Secretariat to support new affiliates to become established, and to identify and represent their views. Most recently the WAIMH Executive Board were active in inviting the presidents of a representative group of affiliates to take part in an interview to explore how WAIMH can better support them in their national work.  The findings of this consultation will be published in the next edition of Perspectives in Infant Mental Health, which as the professional publication of WAIMH, is another example of the way in which, under the superb editorial leadership of Deborah Weatherston and more recently Maree Foley, WAIMH promotes the sharing of important news and information.  

The role of Affiliate Representative has also made me aware of the importance of an international parent organisation such as WAIMH, and of the need for it to continue to establish affiliates across the world particularly in those parts in which they are currently under-represented, in addition to the further sharing of excellence and resources using our new expertise for virtual learning environments. I would aim to contribute to WAIMHs future work in this respect by drawing on the expertise that I have acquired over the past decade in terms, for example, of developing a range of distance learning resources that enable practitioners worldwide to have access to important learning that would not otherwise be available to them; Babies in Mind, was one of the first infant mental health Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered free across the world by FutureLearn; with the aim of introducing some of the core infant mental health concepts to individuals (practitioners, parents, grandparents) who wouldn’t otherwise have free access to learning on this topic, each delivery of the course saw over 10,000 people signed up at the start, around a tenth of whom made it to the end.

The Infant Mental Health Journal (IMHJ) in conjunction with the Michigan Association of Infant Mental Health, also makes a significant contribution to WAIMH in terms of the sharing of excellence in training, research and clinical practice, and is another aspect of WAIMHs work about which I feel a great passion; and the quality and rigour of the published research has progressed significantly under the editorial leadership of Prof Paul Spicer, and more recently Dr Holly Brophy-Herb. I look forward in my role as member of the editorial board, to hearing about how it will contribute to learning about the impact of the pandemic on babies going forward, and to reviewing some of the papers that will no doubt be submitted examining both the secondary impact on infant mental health, and the clinical changes to practice that have been made. 

Perhaps most importantly, it is at times like these that we can reflect on the fact that WAIMH has become a world leading organisation and a beacon of excellence, as a result of the dedication and passion of previous clinicians and researchers, some of whom have served as presidents, most recently being Professor Kai von Klitzing, in addition to individuals who have served as part of the wider WAIMH Executive and Secretariat. To maintain this level of excellence requires the ongoing contribution of individuals who are passionate about infant mental health to ensure not only its standing in terms of being the global lead in terms of new developments in training, research and clinical practice, but also the ongoing financial viability of the organisation.  My role over the past decade as President of AIMH UK, has involved significant learning about leading a non-profit making organisation whose activities are mostly delivered by passionate volunteers, and strategies for ensuring that such an organisation remains financially viable by being underpinned by a sound business model. My role as an academic at the University of Oxford, researching the effectiveness of interventions in the field of infant mental health, also provides me with the opportunity to stay abreast of new clinical research and practice, in addition to wonderful opportunities to work with leading clinicians and academics internationally; most recently this involved working with colleagues to develop and host a new international infant network of clinicians, researchers and policy leads, focused explicitly on addressing the needs of infants at risk of abuse. 

So much has been achieved, but there is more still to be done, and the current pandemic will necessitate us finding new ways of doing them.  I would regard it an honour to serve as President-elect and to support WAIMH in these future activities.  If I were appointed, I would ensure that I worked with the forthcoming President Campbell Paul, and with the WAIMH Executive and Secretariat, to continue the pursuit of excellence in Infant Mental Health that WAIMH has established globally over the last four decades.

Thank you for considering my nomination. 

Yours sincerely
Jane Barlow (Dr)
Professor of Evidence Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation, University of Oxford
Affiliate representative, WAIMH