The UKs inaugural infant mental health awareness week which is being launched on the 6th June continues to open up the conversation about the importance of the first 1001 days: conception to age 2 period. Infant mental health has a long standing history in the UK highlighting the importance of attachment and responsive, sensitive caregiving experiences for infant-family relationships beginning in the antenatal period.
Infant mental health challenges us as a society to reflect upon how well we are doing for children and in particular asks what experiences does a baby have being born in the UK.The first 1001 days: conception to age 2 period invites us as a society to improve the life chances of every baby and opens up a window of opportunity for early investment and improved future outcomes for children in the UK.
It has long been assumed that we do well by babies in the UK in comparision to other countries with our track record of quality physical care on the whole. As the debate around child and adolescent mental health in particular being championed by Her Highness the Duchess of Cambridge continues, this weeks spotlight on babies, toddlers and their relationships causes a pause for reflection to consider the foundation years as the cornerstone of the developing mind with its beginnings in infancy and in the context of mental health.
Infant mental health is described by the World Association for Infant Mental Health as the ability to develop physically, cognitivley, and socially in a manner which allows them to master the primary emotional tasks of early childhood without serious disruption caused by harmful life events. Because infants grow in a context of nurturing environments, infant mental health involves the psychological balance of the infant-family system.
If we truly are to do well by babies in the UK and enable a universal, holistic and seamless approach to the first 1001 days: conception to age 2 period, as a society we must hold the future in mind to think about each cohort of births as the next generation who will become the parents of tomorrow. We must enable an environment in our communities to be baby friendly as it is the future generations who will hold our generation to account with the scientific knowledge that is at our finger tips, to challenge us on how well we did for children from their beginnings to give them the best possible start in life.
Thank you to all our partners for their support to launch this inaugural week and to all of you who will have the beginning conversations with others about what infant mental health is and why it matters. Share this website with others and its positive vision for better outcomes for children's mental health in the UK.
Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK