Infant Mental Health Awareness Week

 Content Editor

​This year the focus from Parent Infant Partnership UK is:

'Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Trauma to Promote Secure Attachment'

Here at the Trust we will be continuing to open up and start conversations about the importance of Infant Mental Health. We understand the value of parents building secure attachments and loving bonds with their babies, whilst breaking negative life cycles.

Babies and young children thrive in relationships which offer them warm, nurturing and responsive care. They are entirely dependent on Parents/ Carers for their physical and emotional wellbeing.

'Probably the most important period in everyone's life is the one that they cannot remember' (Balbernie, 2008)
Our six key messages to take away from Infant Mental Health Awareness Week:

1). Infants – they have thoughts, feelings, their own minds and need to have their emotional, physical and psychological needs met to have good mental health.
2). Relationships are everything! Infant's mental health is determined by the bond and attachment, relationship that they have with their parent/carer.
3). 'Think Family' - Mental health affects all members of the family and the impact needs to be considered for all.
4). 'Engagement' – Engaging with services during the ante natal and post-natal period is essential. Professionals such as your Midwife, Health Visitors & GP can all help support your mental health during your pregnancy & your child's early years. It's good to talk!
5). 'Bonding with your baby can be difficult during pregnancy and after birth'
6). 'Our infants of today will become our parents of tomorrow'
The early years
0 - 2 years are critical to a child's development and provide the essential foundations for future behaviour and wellbeing health (1001 critical days). During this time the building blocks of a baby's mind are being put in place. Babies' babbling is an instinctive effort to interact with the world around them in order to learn. When a carer responds in a meaningful way through talking, facial expressions and gestures, connections form in the baby's brain which lay the foundation for development in language, behavioural control, motor skill, memory and emotion.

The relationship, or bond, between a child and their primary caregiver is described by attachment behaviour. Good attachment gives the infant the 'secure base' needed to explore, learn about and relate to the world. Positive attachment experiences are essential to emotional, social, physical and cognitive development.

Of course, it is impossible to think about 'infant mental health' without thinking about 'Parental Mental Health', and the health and wellbeing of other members of the family. Maternal and infant mental health are inextricably linked. The way that a mother feels can affect the way that she looks after herself and the way that she interacts with, and cares for her baby. An infant's mental health is determined by the quality of the parent infant relationship and the parent's ability to separate out their own mental health and life struggles (see still face experiment).
There is help out there for families to access specialised, tailored support to meet their needs and get well, including:
  • Building Attachment and Bonds Service - Knowsley
  • Specialist Midwifery Services
  • Health Visitors
  •  Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service
  •  Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)
  •  Adult Mental Health Service
  • Children's Centres
*This list is not extensive - services are setting up and developing each day across each area.
If you are interested in seeking further information about services and the support they can offer to families please see links below.
Families can also speak to their GP or midwife, who will be able to make a direct referral into the teams. 

Watch Danielle's story: