Parenting, Early Years & Families

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Parenting, Early Years & Families

Infant mental health: the case for early intervention

Infants are primed from birth to relate to another person.  The inter-relatedness of the mother-baby relationship, particularly in the first week and months of life means that each is continually influencing the other.  These early experiences between mother and baby lay the foundation of the infant's fundamental sense of self.  Residues from these early relationships persist across the life cycle.

Impairments in the capacity of parents to offer dependable experience to infants and young children can have a detrimental impact on their emotional, social and cognitive development in ways which may be long lasting and not repairable.

It is in the interests of both child and society that relationship difficulties between parents and children are addressed as early as possible following birth.  The importance of effective services which support the development of positive relationships between parents and infants especially in the early days and weeks is well established. We know the problems that can arise, including long term mental health consequences when a baby, toddler or child’s needs are repeatedly unmet and early intervention maximises the potential for development in the individual child and family group. 

Infant mental health:  the case for early intervention

NSCAP has developed a 12 week  course combining the practice of close observation of young children and small group discussion to develop an understanding of children’s emotional communication.  The programme provides an effective framework for anyone working with parents, infants and toddlers from pregnancy through to nursery. It is particularly aimed at addressing gaps in provision for families with increased vulnerability due to factors such as parental mental illness, deprivation and trauma. It is part of NSCAP’s CPD portfolio and is underpinned by a programme of impact evaluation which has already indicated the transformative potential which this type of experience-based learning can have on practice at work.