'Trust has the right ingredients to achieve Infant Mental Health vision'


'Trust has the right ingredients to achieve Infant Mental Health vision'

The Western Trust has launched its Infant Mental Health Strategy. The new strategy focuses on early childhood mental and emotional wellbeing as well as the importance of a supportive environment from pregnancy onwards.


Infant mental health is about ensuring that infants grow up in a suitable environment and are given emotional support through nurturing, parental attachment, positive parenting and role modelling. Through the introduction of this new strategy, the Western Trust is demonstrating its commitment to promoting supportive care-giving relationships that will encourage emotional balance, a healthy sense of self and a good basis for development and learning in infants and young children.


The Western Trust has been developing the strategy for the past 12 months and has received support and endorsement from research professionals in the field of infant mental health both at a national and international level. Now that the document has been officially launched the Trust will work on delivering key actions that will ensure the strategy is received and integrated into antenatal and postnatal, children’s and social services throughout the Western Trust area.


Speaking at the launch of the Infant Mental Health Strategy, Western Trust Chairman Gerard Guckian encouraged everyone to take ‘personal ownership’ of the strategy.Mr Guckian said: “This is a very important first step and sets out the vision and the intentions of the Western Trust to work in partnership with key agencies through the voluntary and community sector to support families in generating positive mental health and emotional well-being of their childrenLaunch of the Infant Mental Health Strategy 02.”


Kieran Downey, Assistant Director for Women and Children’s Services at the Trust, commented: “One barrier to focusing on infant mental health for children is the mistaken impression that young children do not develop mental health problems and are immune to the effects of early adversity and trauma because they are resilient and 'grow out of' behavioural problems and emotional difficulties. This is not the case, research confirms that children who have adverse experiences in childhood are more likely to be involved as teenagers and adults in alcohol and drug misuse, antisocial behaviour and are three times more likely to be depressed.


“Through this strategy, the Western Trust will strive to deliver an all-encompassing health service which protects infant mental health by focusing on early years intervention approaches, specifically in the areas of Looked after Children, maternal mental health, breastfeeding and addressing hidden harm created by alcoholism.”


Guest Speaker at the launch event, Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, Senior Lecturer at School of Psychology Dundee University, endorsed the strategy and added: “The level of energy and excitement about early years development in the Western Trust is profound. They have all the ingredients to achieve the vision they have for children, families and the whole community.”


The Infant Mental Health Strategy can be accessed by clicking here.