Infant Mental Health
A child’s social emotional well being is just as important as other areas of child development. Often this area of development is underdeveloped due to poor parent and child bond or relationship. Some signs of a child needing infant mental health infant services are: depression, excessive crying with difficulty being consoled, difficulty feeding and problems with sleep. Children who are at risk for infant Mental Health are those whose parents: were abused, have a mental health challenge or disorder including post partum depression, have drug or alcohol problems, have relationship problems, are violent or abusive or in conflict, lack support, are teenagers, or had a difficult or traumatic birth experience.
Infant Mental Health Services:
- Individual and Family Therapy
- Social Emotional Assessment
VPK Specialized Instructional Services
What is Infant Mental Health?
The foundations of all domains of human development are laid in the first several years of life. Basic to healthy development are the capacities to love, to feel, to develop a sense of self, and to adapt to one’s environment. Infant Mental Health is the social and emotional well-being of the very young child in the context of family relationships, beginning at birth and extending through the preschool years.
Why is there study, research and promotion of Infant Mental Health?
Young children are often among the most helpless, neglected subgroups of society. In the past 50 years, researchers have found that attending to young children promotes more fully functioning older children, teens and adults. As a body of professionals studying, researching and helping families with very young children, the Infant Mental Health field is holistic, family-oriented, and multidisciplinary, involving social services, mental health and health professionals, educators and policy-makers.
What are the goals of Infant Mental Health?
The goals of the Infant Mental Health field are to promote emotional well-being in young children and their families, to reduce risk factors, and to prevent and/or ameliorate emotional problems. Research, advocacy, public education and improved policy are also important goals.
How can babies have emotional problems?
Depression can be observed in the first 2-3 months of life, as can attachment disorders, problems with regulation of behavior and emotions, and other developmental difficulties. Risk factors have been identified, developmental pathways are much better understood, and methods to identify children at risk are continually being improved.
Is there treatment for very young children who experience emotional problems?
Yes. Treatment most often involves working with parents and babies together, emphasizing relationship, interaction, emotions and knowledge of babies’ needs. Home visiting programs, attachment-focused approaches, infant-parent psychotherapy, psychoeducational and family support services are among the well-researched and effective treatments.
Can emotional problems be prevented?
Often, prevention efforts are successful and cost effective, especially in a service context that is multi-disciplinary, flexible, coordinated and supported by strong, child-oriented policies.
Can’t parents just be treated? What is unique about Infant Mental Health as opposed to Family Therapy and other adult services?
Infants, toddlers and preschoolers certainly need their parents more than anyone else. However, every baby and very young child is unique, and specialized knowledge is frequently lacking in services that are primarily adult-centered. Dyadic treatment, with a focus on the unique, specially tailored services to a given child requires specialized training along with an understanding of parenting and adult functioning.
Our Infant Mental Health Services
Our Infant Mental Health Specialists work with parents and babies together to emphasize parent child relationship. They work with parents to bring awareness of a health parent child relationship which nurtures and promotes healthy child development. Infant Mental Health Specialists may use counseling, parent-child interaction activities, education and family support services. They provide services in the home, school and community settings, in the child’s natural environment.