Winter swimming and other pleasures

The new year has had a good start with extremely beautiful winter weather. The negative side of this is that it is unbelievable cold in our hospital. I really need gloves to be able to write in my office. Fortunately I now have a suitable pair! They leave to fingertips uncovered so that browsing papers and typing go well, and freezing of the hands does not slow down the work, either.

You might wonder why not warm the house a bit better. But we have asked for better heating for 12 years, without success. Our hospital is a traditional mental hospital in a beautiful park besides a lake. The buildings are more than 100 years old. Fortunately the other end of the building of our adolescent forensic unit, the one where the young people reside, has appropriate indoor temperature.

However, these uncomfortable external conditions do not prevent me from being enthusiastic because of the excellent work of the junior researchers I supervise. Right after the
New Year we submitted two manuscripts on eating disorders, one concerning bullying and family issues, and one on psychosis. In all these, undergraduate diploma students were the principal authors. It is a privilege to have such competent undergraduate students in my research team, and I am happy that quite a many students are interested in adolescent psychiatry and carry out their diploma work in my projects. Currently there are two clinically most relevant systematic reviews under making, and during Christmas holiday, two students worked in our clinic collecting data that will allow us to critically evaluate our work in the Department of Adolescent Psychiatry.


January has also provided interesting opportunities to meet colleagues from abroad and get international perspectives to our work. Associate professor Campbell Paul, who works in the child and adolescent gender identity service in the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, visited Tampere University Hospital to plan the forthcoming meeting of the World Association for Infant Mental Health Congress in Prague. I had the opportunity to meet him and exchange experiences of gender identity issues in minors, and also to join a seminar arranged by the Department of Child Psychiatry where Dr Paul lectured about gender identity issues in children, and I told about our work on gender identity issues in adolescents. Another interesting seminar was arranged in our hospital to respect the work of Dr Klaus Lehtinen who retired in the end of 2015, on trauma and severe mental illness. It was an honor to us to welcome as special guest speaker professor Jim van Os from University of Maastricht, NL. Professor van Os reviewed the scientific evidence on the associations between trauma and psychosis. This is a most relevant topic from point of view of our adolescent forensic unit where unfortunately most of the young people have suffered unbearable amount of traumas and adversities.

However, all the exciting brainstorming and inspiration also require good relaxation, to maintain a balance. With a group of ladies from our adolescent forensic unit we have adopted a most pleasurable routine of sauna bathing and winter swimming every Sunday in Rauhaniemen kansankylpylä. We started in August (when it was of course summer swimming and the water was very warm and lovely). After regular practice throughout the fall we now feel very tough, taking at least four rounds of sauna and dipping into (very cold) water every time we go there. Now one of the ladies had learned that one should stay in the cold water for at least two minutes to obtain all the health benefits winter swimming is expected to give. I must admit that my dips into the water are rather of two seconds, but definitely I get a most wonderful relaxed feeling, and I am sure it also heals a number of illnesses even before they emerge.