Portrait Dr Ruud Minderaa, President of ESCAP.

"It is not to know more, but how to use what we already know."

Ruud Minderaa interview

"Current issue is the implementation of knowledge"

“I saw so many colleagues with smiles on their faces in Dublin. So it wasn't only me who was over the moon with the way we were able to exchange our knowledge, our insights and our visions on child psychiatry. I am proud that we were able to host the very top of the European researchers at this event”, says Dr Ruud Minderaa, President of ESCAP, shortly after the succesful Congress of ESCAP 2013.

What aspect stood out in particular, in your opinion? 

“I was specifically fascinated to listen to those young women and men – already quite experienced though – who clearly have put all of their hearts in their work and who made their best effort to present the outcome at our ESCAP conference. It's fun to see this next generation coming up and perform at such a high level.”

Do you expect this 'digital generation' of psychiatrists to increase the pace of improving the field of child and adolescent psychiatry? 

“You know, research is all about the development, and about the understanding of our profession in order to help children and adolescents with their mental health problems. These children are what this is all about. Unfortunately we cannot promise them overnight results. We must be aware that these matters are delicate and proceed very slowly. It takes time to research. Progress comes over the years and we should always grant our brilliant thinkers their time to develop.”

Clinical practice will have to exercise patience for some time? 

“No, luckily not in all cases. Because at the same time it was enjoyable to see, attending the Dublin sessions, that many speakers showed up with so many results of research that are applicable rather directly in patient care. That is what clinicians like to hear! I met so many care workers that left the conference being very eager to put their learnings into practice. European researchers and clinicians seem to become rather good at enlarging and applying new knowledge – we are really making leaps forward. Being able to offer all this to the children is something to be proud of.” 

So everything is under control. The ESCAP Board may sit back and relax? 

“That is a common mistake. It would be very wrong to assume that applicable research results are the final goal of our work. Reaching the children with these results, that would be more satisfying. I have experienced so many times that implementation of new knowledge is the heaviest effort. Very underestimated. To get things working within our organisations, in different circumstances, in different European countries. That's the current big issue, and the most difficult topic that was discussed at our conference. It looks as if we have so many evidence based building blocks ready to apply within our daily work. Yet, organising ourselves and finding a way to make the actual implementation successful is an enormous task. Today's big challenge in child psychiatry is not to know more, but how to use the things that we already know.” 

How could ESCAP contribute to solving this? 

“I hope that the joint brainpower of all ESCAP members will help us to find solutions on this topic. We should exchange ideas, experiences, failures and successes to tackle this issue.” 

By which means? 

“ESCAP involves more than a congress once every two years. We don't have to wait until Madrid 2015 to inspire each other on issues like the implementation of newly developed knowledge. That is why we work hard on improving our communication.”

“The ECAP Journal – the only peer-reviewed journal on child psychiatry – has recently been designated as the Official Journal of ESCAP. Also we will offer all European child psychiatrists a new place to meet, by presenting this renewed website. Apart from all the international cooperation that is already up and running, I am sure an online platform will help to improve communication between child psychiatrists in Europe. We have the ambition to make 'ESCAP Online' the meeting platform for European cooperation in child psychiatry. Including country profiles, discussion facilities and a variety of contributions from all member countries on research, practice and policy topics. I invite everybody involved in child psychiatry to come and meet at this site. To learn and contribute, to discuss and find relevant contacts and insights.”