Infant Mental Health Promotion

Becca and AJ

Infant Mental Health Promotion

Infant mental health promotion refers to the social, emotional and cognitive well-being of infants and young children. Through extensive research and a strong professional knowledge base, at Youville Centre, we recognize the importance of providing opportunities for the overall optimal outcomes of the families and children we serve.

Supporting infant mental health means that we:

• Work collaboratively with children, parents and community partners to prevent difficulties

• Intervene early when children are identified as being “at risk”

• Encourage a sense of security, safety and the ability to establish and maintain satisfying and healthy relationships

• Promote the ability for parents and young children to cope with and solve problems within their environment

• Strive to promote stable, supportive families and communities

A child’s development in the early years is crucial; this is a period of time where the relationships children form build the foundation for their perception of their own self-worth and abilities, as well as that of their caregivers and of the world around them. We believe that parent education is vital and that when parents are armed with information regarding their child’s development in regards to their social-emotional and cognitive needs, they are better prepared to understand how best to respond to their child appropriately. Stress in the parenting system directly affects a parent’s sense of self in their parenting role, and especially contributes to the perception they have of their child. By targeting our interventions early, and directly working within the parent-child dyad, we are providing the most effective form of infant mental health treatment.

We continue to offer the Make the Connection (MTC 0-1) attachment and parenting program to our mothers when they enter Youville Centre. This program is meant to increase the parent’s awareness of their baby’s attachment system as well as to empower them to become more confident in their parenting role. A second parenting course focused more on the toddler stage of development is our Make the Connection (MTC 1-2) attachment and parenting program. This program is viewed as a continuation of MTC 0-1 and focuses on the changing dynamics of the parent-child relationship as the toddler becomes more independent and parents require new and evolving skills and strategies to help guide them in their parenting journey.

Our Child Development and Infant Mental Health team are trained in administering, scoring and interpreting the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2); an assessment tool that will compliment the work we are currently undertaking. The ASQ is valid, reliable and accurate in detecting red flags in children’s development from 1 month to 5 1/2 years of age. The screen also uniquely screens for concerns within a child’s social and emotional development, an area directly related to their overall mental health and well-being.