ECAP Journal, February 2014

Integrating alignment and internet technology in our vision on international CAP relations

Article from the ECAP Journal, Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2014) 23:119–121 DOI 10.1007/s00787-013-0503-x Presented here with the kind permission of the publisher.

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ESCAP online: integrating alignment and internet technology in our vision on international CAP relations

Ariëlle M. de Ruijter

Everything is migrating to the internet. Some 15 years ago
the whole world seemed to be reacting suspiciously on the
forecasts of pioneers like Kevin Kelly [1 ], but today almost
everyone agrees that we need to rethink our ideas about
connecting together. In their days the pioneer visions
remained theory for the simple reason that not enough
people were participating. Kelly’s ‘radical strategies for a
connected world’ [2 ] now prove to have been spot-on, but
only in the last few years we are able to put them into
practice. Indeed, a network does not start functioning
before the members become active.
This applies equally to the European network of child
and adolescent psychiatry, the ESCAP community. ESCAP
does have the substance: around a thousand participants at
every biennial conference and 32 national member societies
representing a large number of child psychiatry professionals
all over Europe and beyond. A first prerequisite is
that European child and adolescent mental health professionals
become active on the internet. If we want to learn,
we have to contribute—‘feed the web first’ Kevin Kelly
said. The result could be an extremely rich harvest of
knowledge of which every practitioner, every young patient
may benefit. Moreover, European child psychiatry could
save large amounts of money by online cooperation and the
exchange of knowledge. No more duplication of research,
no more re-inventing the same clinical protocols, the 
 biggest and the best knowledge base in the world, accessible
at any time, at any place. As long as we are connected and as
long as we are all active members of our online community.
Some authors even believe that health care may reinvent
itself by taking advantage of the digital revolution to reach a
phenomenal level of quality and accessibility [3 ].

‘‘A mentality of working together’’
 This is a big opportunity for child psychiatry: a European
platform for CAP knowledge, a meeting place for
researchers, clinical experts and policy makers. It is feasible,
ESCAP can form this community. But: only if the
relevant players participate.
It is easily said that child psychiatrists are hardly
amongst the frontrunners on the web. They’re not even
early adopters. So they have to run and adopt a little bit
later. Maybe now, 15 years after the likes of Kelly. Despite
the continuing skepticism and criticism [4 ], it is safe to
predict that the world wide web will become even more
important. With no exception for child psychiatry. From
the heart of the network, professor Eric Taylor predicted in
his lecture at the Dublin Trainee Conference that the
internet will rapidly increase its role in child and adolescent
psychiatry, as in science and in society in general [5 ].
By facilitating the conditions, the ESCAP board shows
confidence in the potential members. By launching an
online meeting platform ( ) the board seems
to assume that members will indeed feed the web first  by
bringing in their knowledge, share ideas, posing their
questions and publicly discuss their visions. ‘‘This is about
openness and about a mentality of working together’’,
according to board member Dr. Brendan Doody [6 ].
 Of course the net is not completely new to child and
adolescent psychiatry. Trainees and professionals are
already using the net in many ways. For example by using
their mobile devices for various kinds of training. Trainee
societies established common Facebook pages and
numerous discussion groups can be found on LinkedIn and
other social media platforms. Communities of patients and
parents track and publish their experiences, find their peers
and buddy’s online, search for help and pose their questions.
Professionals present themselves online in many
forms with online or blended therapeutical services [7 ].
They carry out online research, publish online and conduct
online reviews. Some find that online treatment may well
be effective [8 ]. Policy makers use Twitter and Facebook
to influence governmental budget cuts and advertise the
importance of youth mental health. Child psychiatry basically
migrates to the internet, as everybody else does for
pretty much all of their activity.

ESCAP online community
So what has ESCAP’s new website to add to all of this?
The focus, given by the ESCAP Board, is centred around
the exchange of knowledge . Very similar to the goals of the
ESCAP Congresses, the online activities aim for more
contact between child and adolescent psychiatry professionals
in all three divisions: researchers, as well as clinical
professionals and policy makers. Continuing the exchange
of ideas, experience and knowledge also during the 2 year
gaps between conferences can boost the knowledge base of
all European mental health workers.

1. Be findable

In order to build an active online community that is able
to do this, a few steps have to be taken. Firstly ESCAP
must be more findable on the internet. Googling for
‘European child psychiatry’ will lead to more than twelve
million results, searching for ‘ESCAP’ provides more than
a million possibilities—ESCAP was nowhere to find
among these huge piles of suggestions. Since the launch of  the findability has improved significantly by
applying clever technical design that makes it easier for
search engines to find and index. The same web search
queries now put ESCAP among the top-5 results.
On the ESCAP website, members will be able to find
each other. To get acquainted and call for immediate
overviews of the issues which are relevant to each member
society. The ‘Country Member pages’ are essential to this
first acquaintance and will show the most important
achievements that national societies may offer as ‘learnings’
to others, but also their issues on which others may
 help them out. The CAP Societies in Turkey, the Netherlands
and Bulgaria have already applied this format and are
open for discussion (Austria, Greece and Ireland coming
up). ESCAP is expecting all other 29 members to join this
initial step of cooperation [9 ]. The website provides a
simple questionnaire for creating a country member profile
in 35 minutes time. This format is essential to set interaction
between ESCAP members in motion.

2. Substantial content

The second challenge was to develop a substantial
amount of content. Visitors may of course not be disappointed
once they enter the ESCAP website. Also, intelligent
search engines only recommend web pages if the
content is really there, not only the key words. This has
been achieved by contracting an online editor to develop
and maintain the website content. A peak performance of
reporting, interviewing and writing around the Dublin
conference delivered enough output to go live on 30 September
2013. Since then more content (text, photography,
video, presentations, slideshows, hyperlinks) is added to
the website every week.

3. Make ESCAP flexible

To enable ESCAP to respond more quickly to current
events and important developments the online activities of
ESCAP have to be flexible. A new content management
tool makes the maintenance of content very quick and easy.
Pages and whole sections can be updated, replaced or
exchanged with just a few clicks. The editor can publish
and instantly make corrections from congress locations or
anywhere else with internet access—only recently a
member country profile page was updated with online input
from Turkey, from a remote mountain refuge in the Alpes.
This feature enables ESCAP to respond instantly to
developments in policy, practice or the academic realm.

4. Create a ‘third place to be’

ESCAP intends to offer every professional in youth
mental health a ‘third place to be’, and stay connected
when they are not physically in one location. In this way
the website adds an essential third meeting place, beside
the congresses and the publication (ECAP Journal). Much
of what the members of ESCAP produce and share—in and
outside the congress—remains visible on the website. The
examples are already online: presentations, posters, calls
for participation in research, reports and especially ‘less
formal stories’ such as opinion pieces and accounts of
experiences. A wealth of data and information that could
be specifically helpful for cooperation between members
will be revealed here. In a sense, the congresses will continue
online, keeping everything intuitively findable [10 ].

 5. Attract new people, enlarge the network

Lastly the new online environment will help ESCAP to
build relationships with new groups. Content that will
attract allied professions, European policymakers, nurses,
teachers or others may be added on demand. Already,
anyone involved with child and adolescent mental health
care may subscribe to the ESCAP newsletter that will
highlight new content and features on the website.
ESCAP Online is not a scientific platform. It is not a
clinical manual either. Nor a CAP policy overview. It is a
meeting  platform for professionals in all three divisions of
child and adolescent psychiatry and allied professions. All
of these colleagues are invited to make use of it. And to
contribute to it—giving and taking go together hand in
hand here. The knowledge is in our networks, not in our
office drawers [11 ] and it is such a pleasure to see how
ESCAP people are now building their community, using
the net as it should be used. It would even be better to see
them progress for the benefit of youth that need mental
care. In the internet age the key is the network where
ESCAP professionals should develop sustainable relations
[12 ] with colleagues they trust—credible and reliable—in
order to exchange and boost their knowledge and maintain
a sound reputation [13 ].

Ariëlle M. de Ruijter
Dutch Knowledge Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
ESCAP Online

1. Wikipedia (2013) Kevin Kelly biography, http://en.wikipedia.
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