I am delighted and excited by the challenge and opportunity entrusted to me in my role of ACAMH Chair for the next three years.
I would firstly like to join all my colleagues and Professor Kathy Sylva in thanking Professor Stephen Scott for his inspiring chairmanship of ACAMH for the past 5 years. He will be a difficult act to follow.
I have always held ACAMH in the highest esteem and having joined the ACAMH Board in the past year as the International Development Director, I became even more convinced of the excellence of the organisation’s vision and values. I consider my appointment to the Chair a huge privilege.
I have been a member of ACAMH throughout my working career. I come to the post of Chair with more than 40 years’ experience of clinical practice and almost as many years’ experience of clinical management. I intend to put that knowledge and those skills to the task before me.
At 60 years old, ACAMH finds itself at a crucial juncture. The underlying factors are many and the process of change has been accelerated by the circumstances in which we find ourselves in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic which has gripped the world.
Our multidisciplinary membership which includes teachers, psychologists (both clinical and educational psychologists), child and adolescent psychiatrists, paediatricians, social workers, therapists, and mental health workers have been working tirelessly in extraordinary circumstances without the customary immediate day to day support from peers and mentors. ACAMH has been working hard to develop new ways of providing that support, disseminating first class research through our journals and offering continued education.
But we need to do even more.
After many years of cuts to services, recruitment gaps, and endless re-organisations, the mental health of children and young people has gained public and professional prominence. It is the talk of the media and lies at the centre of public and policy initiatives. It has become even more important to ensure that these developments are grounded in sound evidence-based practice and top-quality research, that services and practice are subjected to rigorous scrutiny, and that professional help becomes more easily available. Parents and teachers have to become our partners in delivering these goals. We must listen to the young people. The pandemic has created new challenges for them and in particular for the vulnerable groups of children.
ACAMH is perfectly positioned to deliver this agenda. Its publications carry world quality peer-reviewed research and its multidisciplinary membership enriches research and practice. The programmes ACAMH has envisioned for parents and for the involvement of children and young people will ensure that the work we do is meaningful and that it results in good outcomes.
At my appointment interview I specified three initiatives;
Firstly, I stressed the importance of ACAMH’s excellent journals extending their influence on the main body of the organisation so that the two become synonymous with each other. ACAMH’s journals have a remarkable reputation, but not enough of our readership associate the journals with the organisation. I will work hard to promote ACAMH in all its complexity and ensure the integration of its different activities.
Secondly, through disseminating up-to-date research ACAMH should assume a greater national public advocacy role on behalf of children, young people, carers, families, and the institutions which serve them. In advancing standards and sharing best evidence from research and practice, ACAMH can be at the heart of efforts to protect and serve the interests of children, young people, their families and carers.
Thirdly, we shall continue to reach out to our multidisciplinary membership and our branches and persist in our efforts to gain more members both nationally and internationally.
You may well ask what is ACAMH’s immediate agenda. We are on the verge of establishing a new journal, JCPP Advances, to complement our existing journals and publications, The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (JCPP), Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) and The Bridge. In addition to plans for live streaming our masterclasses, workshops, and our three major national conferences, ACAMH has already set in motion the development of a rejuvenated educational programme to include a new video platform and a redesigned website.
Our international work is expanding, with established branches in Ireland and Malta, a group in Egypt and plans for India. The translation of our materials into different languages is under way.
Fortunately, ACAMH has enjoyed a healthy financial period as presented in the financial report of our most recent annual general meeting (AGM) held on 18 September 2020. The pandemic may yet have repercussions on our income but for the time being we have the funds, inspiration, and energy to embark upon the new developments and digital transformation of ACAMH.
I look forward to future collaboration with our members, my colleagues on the Board and the superb editorialship of our journals and publications, and working with Martin Pratt, CEO and Megan Archer Deputy CEO of ACAMH, and the office team.
I welcome your comments and views during my chairmanship of ACAMH, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep you regularly informed of our direction.
Dr Gordana Milavić
Meet the new Chair of ACAMH
Dr Gordana Milavić was born in Belgrade, in what was then Yugoslavia, but from an early age was brought up and went to school in Washington, DC and Istanbul. The many changes of schools coupled with life in different countries required quick adjustments and rapid acculturation. Having so many friends in different parts of the world remains, as she puts it, ‘the greatest bonus’.
She qualified from the Medical Faculty of the University of Belgrade. Psychiatry was always her chosen discipline. As a 4th year medical student she did an elective at Guy’s Hospital, London in psychiatry. Upon completion of her medical studies and her internship she was invited by Dr Raghu Gaind, Consultant Psychiatrist, to train in psychiatry. Professor Jim Watson had just arrived at Guy’s and set about establishing one of the biggest training schemes in psychiatry across south east England. Child psychiatric training was extended across Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals – a truly historic moment in what were hitherto educational rivals. Dr Eva Frommer at St Thomas first talked about children and young people suffering with depressive disorders. Her influence persisted and many years later Gordana and Dr Patrick Smith, Consultant Psychologist, set up the Mood Disorder Clinic of the National and Specialist Services at the Maudsley Hospital.
Clinical and services management skills were built gradually throughout her career. Starting as a lead clinician in Greenwich there was little choice but to build up services and expand. Once the mental health services for children and young people were ‘on the map’ rather than depending on shoe string budgets, legitimate organisational entities followed with the establishment of clinical directorates, proper funding and recognition by the hospital and community that child mental health was of essence to the wellbeing of children and young people. Under her leadership, the Greenwich child and adolescent mental health services grew from a small team to a large three borough service expanding into the Boroughs of Bexley and Bromley, now part of the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.
From 2006 to 2012 she took on the role of Clinical Director of the Child and Adolescent Services at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in what is regarded as one of the largest mental health trusts in the country. Once the Kings Academic Health Sciences Centre was established, she was appointed to the CAMHS Clinical Academic Group Lead post which required operational and strategic management across Guy’s, St Thomas’, and King’s College Hospitals.
Dr Milavić’s interest in the organisation of child and adolescent psychiatry services led to her appointment to the post of Co-Chair of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section of the World Psychiatric Association (2011 to 2017). Over the next six years she participated in the work of the Section, attended many regional meetings in different parts of the world and met extraordinary people who worked hard at promoting child mental health in their countries. The WPA experience underpins her persisting vision and ambition for improving child mental health on a global level as well as for promoting child mental health in the UK.
She is a member of the Psychiatry Council of the Royal Society of Medicine in the UK since 2014 and participates in their events and conferences.
Teaching medical students, junior doctors, and mental health trainees of all disciplines has been at the forefront of her career. She is currently Programme Coordinator of the Module on Service Planning and Evaluation of the MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London. She also lectures on this course which attracts international graduates from all over the world. She says: ‘The students are an inspiring and committed group who carry on with the mission of improving mental health for children in their parts of the world’.
She is a Trustee and medical advisor of a number of mental health registered charities in the UK and internationally, including ‘Nip in the Bud’ in the UK which produces mental health promotional films, ‘Concern for Mental Health’ in the UK, India, and Pakistan, and the ‘British Serbian Medical Association’, UK.