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Western Trust’s Infant Mental Health Strategy Places Heavy Focus on Early Infant Attachment
Northern Ireland’s Western Trust has recently launched a strategy to promote ‘infant mental health’ amongst the nation’s youngest children for the benefit of their physical and mental well being as adults.
Assistant Director of Children’s Mental Health and Disability Kieran Downey believes there has been a breakdown in traditional parenting skills and cited speech, language and behaviour as the biggest areas for concern. “When I say speech and language, I don’t mean there is some organic speech and language issue. What we are seeing is a lack of vocabulary because children are simply not being conversed with,” he said.
He said the blame could be placed at two doors: the fact life is so busy nowadays and parents are under so much pressure – and the IT age – which has “dramatically reduced the amount of one-on-one communication a child has with others.”
The concept of infant mental health hinges on providing children with the very best emotional start in life, Mr Downey believes, so that as adults, they are mentally and physically healthy. “Our aim is to promote five key messages on infant mental health that need to be heard.”
No smoking or alcohol during pregnancy; promoting breastfeeding;
NorPIP: Shared Beliefs
It has been reported that the strategy will place great emphasis on ensuring children form secure attachments in their early years. This is the very thing NorPIP (the Northamptonshire Parent Infant Project) is campaigning for and will be discussing in detail at their 18th May 2012 conference courtesy of a host of renowned speakers.
Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield will give a master class in the neuroscience of early brain development and the keynote address will be from Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith, whose recently announced Social Justice Strategy aims to tackle what he thinks are the root causes of deprivation.
The conference, “Social Consequences of Poor Infant Attachment: Two is Too Late”, supported by the University of Northampton, takes place on 18 May at Whittlebury Park, Towcester and is open to anyone involved in the childcare sector. For more information visit: http://www.norpipconference.org.uk.
The Western Trust’s ‘Infant Mental Health Strategy - Supporting Infant Mental Health for Every Child in the Western Trust’ paper will form the backbone of all present and future infant mental health services in the area covered by the Western Trust and can be downloaded at http://www.westerntrust.hscni.net.
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The Northamptonshire Parent-Infant Partnership (NorPIP) is a charitable organisation offering attachment enhancing therapeutic help & support for parents from when they first discover they are pregnant to when baby reaches 2. http://www.NORPIP.org.uk