The sustainability and success of most of the initiatives mentioned above will depend heavily on more European experts in personality disorder research and clinical practice joining forces to reach more colleagues in more countries. This is why the ESSPD is eager to recruit more members with a high level of expertise in research, clinical work, training and/or policymaking. In line with the idea of transitioning into an academy of excellence, plans were made to include more outstanding specialists in the field, thus also increasing membership numbers and adding influence to the organization.
Not surprisingly, also in the roster of ESSPD there has been a clearly uneven distribution of members; historically, the Netherlands, UK and Italy together accounted for almost half (46%) of the members. A number of steps have therefore been taken to expand the number of members and particularly make the geographical distribution more even. These initiatives have yielded an increase of about 40% in overall members’ numbers. In some countries – Germany, Norway, Denmark and Spain, for example - the numbers have at least tripled, becoming more in line with the amount of research on personality disorders these countries are making. A closer look at what category of experts our new members come from shows that 88% were researchers, 81% clinicians, 10% policy makers, 57% trainers and 7% organizers. Obviously, the majority of these members have competencies in several areas.
In our on-going recruitment efforts we also concentrate on countries, such as France, Switzerland, Belgium and Sweden, where we know there are significant numbers of researchers contributing to the personality disorder literature, but from which few have so far become ESSPD members.
To support networking and communication among the growing number of members, the ESSPD is now developing a user-friendly web platform at the www.esspd.eu. As part of the recruitment process, new members are asked to complete a form specifying information about their fields of interest as well as on-going research projects. Members will also be asked for their consent for this information to be posted on a restricted members’ only area of the ESSPD website. Overall, we envision that, with time, this platform will be used to promote more collaboration, debate and sharing between experts across Europe and to strengthen the field of personality disorder research.
The goal of building an academy of excellence in personality disorder research, clinical practice, training and policy making is ultimately to help build a mental health work force in Europe that can better deliver high quality services to those in need in all countries. We believe that all European countries have large challenges in this respect. But we also believe that huge savings in terms of time, money and human resources can be made when experts across the continent work more systematically together. For example interdisciplinary and international teams of experts can jointly create updated evidence based clinical guidelines, both at the European level and in each country. A co-ordinated group of experts can also much more effectively impact on important issues such as revisions of diagnostic systems. The current process with a new revision of the international classification of diseases (ICD-11) has shown how important it is that researchers and clinicians collaborate and join forces to make sure that those who are deciding upon the revisions get the best possible advice .