Interview with Dr Hélène Beutler, co-president of the Swiss society

A year on: reminiscing about the Geneva ESCAP 2017 Congress

Hélène Beutler - co-president of the SGKJPP/SSPPEAA year has passed since the Geneva ESCAP congress, and it’s less than a year until we meet again in Vienna for the 2019 ESCAP congress. Here, Dr Hélène Beutler, co-president of the Swiss Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, answers quick-fire questions to summarise the success and outcomes of the Geneva congress and offers some friendly advice for future congress organisation.

The theme of the Geneva ESCAP 2017 congress was Transition: child and adolescent psychiatry in a world of change. What was the significance of this theme?

“The idea of the theme ‘Transition’ was to link research and clinical work that are relevant to current youth mental health. It is a multidisciplinary approach, bringing in research from neuroscience, but also epidemiological issues and to build on this link between clinic and research. There are more and more contemporary challenges that children and adolescents face in today’s world. The program focused on these issues with a specialised group of speakers, allowing delegates to select what was relevant to them and get the most out of the congress”.

Do you think the Geneva congress followed on from the success of the Madrid congress, providing something for everyone?

“We had a lot of participants, well over a thousand, so yes it was a success. A point that was important for the Swiss society was to address psychotherapy issues at the congress. We feel that everyone had something that they could get from the meeting and follow their own special interest”.

The Swiss society hosted and organised the event. What were the big challenges that you had to overcome in the build-up to the event?

“The first challenge or key to a successful event is to provide good speakers; the other aspects are to have good organisation and communications. The challenge in terms of organisation is to provide something for everyone and allow delegates to get what they need for their everyday work. Having focused communications is important. Our focus was for our members, to communicate well with our national society. The success is to be well structured but also to be dynamic to produce a well-rounded congress both for ESCAP and our society”.

What has this ESCAP event bought to the Swiss society or community?

“For the Swiss society, we are proud with the way we approached the organising. As mentioned, we wanted to have good communication throughout. For the Swiss board, it was a big, somewhat intense event; we had to share and talk a lot. We shared our interests in the congress and discussed immensely the topics that were to be presented. It was a thorough process.

For our community, it showed that we used this opportunity and proved that we have the ability to host such an international event. The head of the departments in the different regions of Switzerland found it very stimulating to be part of such an event, to present and share research findings and ideas. Also, young child and adolescent psychiatrists thrived in this environment, and the consensus was that it well received. It was a real community spirit, an area of common preoccupation discussing public health issues. We realised that there are many ways to develop programs, integrate new knowledge into our clinical work. It was stimulating for all of us”.

Did you feel that there was a collaboration among delegates at the event? Perhaps, offering a platform for psychiatrists to communicate with others from other countries.

“Yes, this is the place where you can get to know one another, talk, see the work of other child and adolescent psychiatrists from other countries. It is the place to exchange our knowledge and experience. It raises our consciousness to today’s challenges, it provides a platform in which we can help each other solve issues that we see not only in our own countries but throughout Europe”.

To recap what was presented at the Geneva 2017 congress go to Documenting Geneva where there is a plethora of congress material. The countdown is now on for the Vienna 2019 ESCAP congress. We will over the coming months provide more content and information about what you can expect at the Vienna 2019 congress. Stay tuned and get registered.