Dr Christine Puckering is on a Winston Churchill Fellowship Tour, looking at how babies at social risk are identified early, even in pregnancy, and what services are put in place to promote a secure attachment between mother and child and father and child.
Christine is going to provide regular blogs on her tour of Netherlands, Iceland, Norway & Finland.
I visited the “Health Clinic” in Baeruns Kommune (Norway) today and saw what I think is the best model of infant mental health one could imagine. The clinic staff includes midwives, health nurses (as we would say health visitors) and psychologists. They see families in pregnancy and then for eight post natal visits, with midwives and health visitors both being in contact with the family before and after birth. There is no need for formal referral to psychology, who can be involved from early in the pregnancy or later and mainly offer counseling or “Circle of Security” Parenting programme.
The talk was all of the emotional life of the family, respect, building trust and the easy and early communication between all the workers, with strong links to adult psychiatry, paediatrics and kindergarten. Perhaps even more enlightened is the late afternoon sessions for 15-16 year olds who can drop in after school with no appointment and no referral and discuss anything they want to talk about, bringing a friend if they wish. The nappies and baby leaflets are replaced with teenage-appropriate sources of help and support and free condoms. Everyone goes to the clinic at some time so there is no stigma and no awkward questions to be answered. What a great doorway to making good relationships with young people early, and preparing the ground for when they do decide to become parents.