Infant Mental Health Awareness Week

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week is held annually in June to raise an understanding about why giving every baby the best possible start in life matters. This week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of this issue and to highlight the services in place at the RCH.

When a baby is sick, they find themselves in an environment where they cannot always be with their parents. They cannot always be social and interactive like they are born to be.

The RCH Infant Mental Health team is dedicated to advocating for education, awareness and promotion of positive infant mental health. We had a chat to RCH Senior Mental Health Clinicians, Lisa Da Silva and Kathy Eyre, to find out more.

What is infant mental health?

Infant mental health involves thinking about the world from the baby’s point of view. It considers the ways babies and toddlers learn to think, understand, and how they learn to feel, show and control their emotions. It also aims to understand the psychological, emotional and social world of babies and toddlers, and the particular struggles that they and their families might face.

Why is infant mental health important?

Understanding and promoting infant mental health is the key to preventing mental health problems in very young children. Babies come into the world with a range of strengths and weaknesses, or capabilities and vulnerabilities, that help them cope with things. They are born wanting to connect with people and their environment – this is known as the attachment. Early on, a range of things can be stressful for the parent/carer, the baby, or both of them, and this might change how they relate to each other. Good infant mental health is extremely important for healthy infant development.

How does the RCH help patients and families with infant mental health?

In addition to the dedicated RCH Infant Mental Health team, the RCH has a unique program called Bubs in Mind, working with families to ensure the best outcomes for young children. Bubs in Mind is a community partnership with RCH infant mental health clinicians, alongside Maternal Child Health Nurses (MCHN’s) in the cities of Melbourne and Brimbank. A specialist clinician from the RCH with extra training in working with infants, toddlers, and families is available to support the MCHN’s. They will observe, talk about any problems and answer any questions about how best to help young children and families.

How can the Bubs in Mind program help?

The Bubs in Mind program aims to alleviate a range of concerns including:

  • Coping with a child experiencing chronic illness
  • Parent relationships with their baby or toddler
  • Worries about infant development or behaviour
  • Identifying signs of being sad or depressed (this can be irritability, persistent crying, looking sad or lost, or not enjoying play)
  • Understanding what babies might be thinking and feeling
  • Ongoing troubles with sleeping or feeding

The multidisciplinary team all work together to protect infant mental health and develop collaborative recommendations to support families.

For more information about the Bubs in Mind program or to contact an RCH Infant Mental Health Clinician, please email bubsinmind@rch.org.au.

For more information about infant mental health, please visit our website.

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