The theme for Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is including infants in children and young people’s mental health.
Children and young people’s mental health should refer to the mental health of all children from 0-18 and beyond, but too often it is focussed on older children. There is a “baby blindspot”. So the aim of this Infant Mental Health Awareness Week is to raise awareness of the importance of babies’ social and emotional development and to consider how babies’ mental health needs can also be met.
We at Home-Start Wandsworth are joining the call to ensure that infants are recognised and included in mental health policy, strategy and services.
What is infant mental health?
Infant mental health describes the social and emotional wellbeing and development of children in the earliest years of their life. It reflects whether children have the secure, responsive relationships that they need to thrive – First 1001days
It is the term often used to describe the capacity of a child, during the first three years of life to:
-Form close relationships
-Manage and express emotions
-Explore and learn about their environment
Attachment and Early Relationships
Scientific research shows that a child’s early experiences, whether positive or negative, affects the development of their brain as well as their health.
Attachment refers to the ongoing nurturing relationship that a child builds with their primary caregiver. The way in which a caregiver interacts with a baby or infant is fundamental in shaping their brain development. A baby and toddler needs caring, sensitive adult-child interactions to help them learn to trust and understand the world around them and have the confidence to learn and explore.
Developing secure relationships with caregivers in the early years of life is critical for developing healthy social and emotional skills in infants and toddlers and laying the foundations for good mental health.
“Good mental health is absolutely at the centre of what is means to have a good start in life.” – Anne Longfield Children’s Commissioner for England.
All children should have the best start in life so that they can grow and reach their full potential in childhood and beyond.
If you have any concerns or need further support, please speak with your health visitor.
- AIMH-UK (Association of Infant Mental Health)