I really needed the Christmas holiday after the hard year 2014. In addition to my responsibilities as chief psychiatrist in the Department of Adolescent Psychiatry in Tampere University Hospital and professor of adolescent psychiatry in University of Tampere I acted as the chief psychiatrist in the Forensic Psychiatric Unit of our hospital. Planned originally for three months, this latter responsibility was on me for 16 months; definitely most interesting, I learned a lot myself, and most importantly, we were able to create new co-operation between my adolescent forensic unit and the unit treating adults. Given the unique developmental challenges of adolescence, adolescent forensic psychiatry cannot simply be a downward extension of forensic psychiatry. However, traditional adolescent psychiatric approaches are not sufficient alone, either. The challenge is to choose the best approaches from both those neighbor disciplines, and create a balanced combination. I am looking forward to continue both clinical and scientific collaboration between the two units!
A lot happened also in the field of adolescent gender identity issues last year. We provide an adolescent gender identity service since three years now, and again, in cannot be an extension of adult services. My team has had amazing opportunities to network with the opinion-leading child and adolescent gender identity services in Europe. Last year, a particular pleasure and honor for me was being one of the invited speakers in a C & A gender identity seminar organized to respect the work of professor Domenico Di Ceglie at his retirement from leadership of the unit in Tavistock Clinic in London. The main scientific event in the field of gender identity issues is going to be the EPATH congress in Ghent in March. I am busy doing some data collection in the network of child and adolescent gender identity units in Europe, and I am also excited about the forthcoming presentation of a PhD student of mine in this congress.
In addition to my clinical and academic responsibilities I was in 2014 involved in three important national policy processes, namely in the work of the committee preparing a proposal for updating the legislation on sex reassignment, a work group of child and adolescent psychiatric university clinics making plans for the future of child and adolescent mental health and psychiatric services in the “sote” (a huge rearrangement of health and social services), and the advisory board of the child ombudsman. Child ombudsman Tuomas Kurttila has been really active fighting for the mentally ill adolescents’ right to complete comprehensive school education. It is a disgrace that a young person who due to severe mental illness is delayed in
schoolwork can be kicked out of education at 17. Their municipality of residence can simply refuse to pay the education in hospital school, which is the only opportunity to complete comprehensive school for certain severely mentally ill young people such as those who need the adolescent forensic psychiatric services. Without comprehensive school education you certainly get nowhere in Finland.
In addition to Christmas traditions, this holiday provided me an opportunity to thoroughly enjoy Argentine tango, on a tango course in Mala Junta, Berlin, and in the numerous milongas that take place in the city. Berlin has amazing Argentine tango life! I can’t wait to visit it again.