Here are examples of disciplines and intersections made stronger by being IECMH informed.
Center-based ECE providers, family child care providers and those who support ECE staffs have wonderful opportunities to help children gain social and emotional capacity. Through daily classroom experiences, teachers can help children identify strong emotions – such as anger, excitement and sadness – and facilitate the healthy expression of each.
ECE providers have multiple occasions to partner with parents to help them understand the social and emotional development of their infants and young children, and they can help promote the caregiver-child relationship.
Services to preserve and support families are particularly important for families with infants and toddlers who may need extra support in parenting. Infants and toddlers in foster care are at risk for mental health disorders. Child welfare professionals and foster and biological parents who receive specialized IECMH training and guidance are more adept at supporting the child-parent relationship and social-emotional development.
Infant mental health clinicians provide diagnostic assessments and relationship-based therapeutic intervention that support the caregiver-child relationship. Common capacity-building interventions include teaching and training, clinical supervision, Attachment Behavioral Catch-up (ABC), and Child-Parent Psychotherapy. Treatments can be focused on building caregiver confidence, child and caregiver skill building, and healing from trauma all in the context of the caregiver-child relationship.
Judges work in a strategic position to bring infant mental health principles into consideration and practice as part of the decision-making process in cases involving young children. Taking into consideration brain research and evidence-based practices better assures optimal early childhood social-emotional outcomes.
Early interventionists who are IECMH-informed understand that infants and toddlers learn best through everyday experiences and interactions with familiar people in familiar contexts. They understand which daily developmental practices can build upon the very young child’s primary relationships which are foundational for healthy development in all domains. They also understand that an important role of the service provider is to support family members to be the ones to practice these skills in the infant and very young child’s life.
Home visitors promote healthy child growth and family functioning. Home visitors can provide relationship-based, parent-child assistance that enhances the capacities of parents and young children and provides parents with information regarding their role in the social and emotional development of their children.
IECMH-informed policymakers consider the impact of legislative decisions on very young children and the well-being of their families. They advocate for programs and services that keep families unified and children safe, support quality early childhood education options for all children, and voice their support for services and providers that work to benefit children.
Healthcare providers who are IECMH-informed provide comprehensive, compassionate, culturally effective care that integrates behavioral health and relationship needs of infants, toddlers and parents when either one presents for service. They offer preventive care that systematically screens for parental depression, signs of toxic stress, developmental milestones and provides bridges to services that are offered within a relationship-based context when indicated.
The above information was adapted with permission from the Oregon Alliance for Infant Mental Health’s “Building Oregon Expertise in Social Emotional Development: Multidisciplinary Infant Mental Health Endorsement.” We sincerely thank our infant mental health partners in Oregon for their support.