Creating equality and getting it right for every child are long-held aspirations in Scotland. And becoming the first country in the UK to directly incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law is a significant step towards achieving that goal
But to truly transform childhood in Scotland and to recognise and respect the rights of every child, it is imperative we start by addressing the needs of the very youngest in society. It is at this early stage of life that children are most vulnerable to harm. Yet, specialist IMH services are virtually non-existent in most parts of the country.
However, innovative work is underway in Scotland, led by Dr Anne McFadyen, to develop specialist infant mental health systems in five health board areas. This is a significant advance as the evidence is clear that investing in this critical life stage is the most efficient and cost-effective way of transforming outcomes across the life course.
Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs every June. It provides an opportunity for everyone working in the sector to raise awareness of the importance of babies’ social and emotional development, and to share work they are doing.
There are lots of ways to get involved in the week and to promote this year’s theme “Including Infants”.
- Follow and use the hashtags #IMHAW21 and #IncludingInfants on Twitter.
- Download the Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 Events Calendar
The goal of this year’s IMHAW theme is to encourage everyone working in children and young people’s mental health policies, strategies and services to think about and include babies. Children and young people’s mental health should refer to the mental health of all children from 0-18 and beyond, but too often it is focussed on older children. There is a “baby blindspot”. We are encouraging everyone to think and talk about infant, children and young people’s mental health, and to consider how babies’ mental health needs can be met.
Infant Mental Health – Find out more
Their mission is to support the growth and quality of specialised parent-infant relationship teams across the UK
The recognition of the Scottish Government of the life-long impact of the early years, and their commitment to ensuring that all infants have the best possible start in life through the development of strong relationships between parents and infants, has led to a commitment to make basic IMH training more widely available to professionals who work with children (Commitment 8, Mental Health Strategy for Scotland 2012-2015) and to the launch of the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PNIMH) Programme Board in 2019.
Rachel Love and Dr Anne McFadyen (2020) Mapping of parent-infant intervention and support services in Scotland
The Scottish Government has launched a Wellbeing for Wee Ones campaign which is aimed at parents of young babies and seeks to:
- Illustrate how interacting with babies from the moment they’re born is so important for their child’s brain development
- Reassure parents that the natural interactions they already have with their babies are having a huge impact on their emotional and social wellbeing, now and into the future.