The importance of infant mental health
This week marks Infant Mental Health Awareness and Senior Lecturer in Social Welfare Robin Sturman-Coombs blogs about the importance of this topic, as the University of Northampton launches a new course to better equip professionals in this area.
Last month saw the annual Mental Health Awareness Week with eyes internationally focused on how we can ensure adults and children experience good mental health, and this led me to think about one group of people whose good mental health we don’t always consider – infants.
This week affords us an opportunity to address this as from 13-19 June it is Infant Mental Health Awareness week, a crucial week in the calendar but something that is important throughout the year.
As a social worker myself, I have seen countless situations where families needed much more in depth and expert knowledge with regards to infancy and supporting parents in order to improve the overall outcomes for infants and families. Extensive research and evidence demonstrate to us the critical importance of engaging with infants and families early on.
Research from the Harvard Centre and Association for Infant Mental Health (AiMH) all evidence this need, and now more than ever we need to focus our support on infants, children and families at an earlier stage in order to improve the long-term outcomes for all family members.
We know infancy is a critical period in a child’s life, during which early experiences can and do shape connections and relationships into adolescence and beyond, which is why we developed the PGCert in Advanced Practice in Infant Mental Health and Wellbeing.
We have specifically designed a course that seeks to better the outcomes for infants, children, young people and families. Our programme is of direct relevance to those employed in family hubs, mother and baby psychiatric units and early help centres. It will enable them to develop expertise in the field of infant mental health and wellbeing and offers opportunities to engage in critical debate, learning and discussions on the contemporary issues relating to the field.
We want to enhance the skills, knowledge and expertise of the workforce and ultimately improve outcomes for infants and families and hope you will join us with this vitally important work.