Specialist Health Visitors Promoting Positive Infant Mental Health

Specialist Health Visitors Promoting Positive Infant Mental HealthThe Western Trust is committed to ensuring every baby and young child has the best start in life. During Infant Mental Health week (10 - 16 June 2018), a new service provided by the two newly appointment specialist health visitors in Infant Mental Health will be introduced.

Aideen Cooney has completed a Master’s degree in Infant Mental Health and is also ‘Sleep Scotland’ trained. Ciara McCloskey has completed a diploma in Infant Mental Health and hopes to do the Master’s this year. They help parents who might be experiencing difficulties building a relationship with their baby. They take referrals from Health Visitors anytime between the antenatal period, up until the baby is one year old.

It is normal for a parent to have a mixture of feelings including negative or unloving feelings about their pregnancy and following the birth of their baby. If the feelings are bothering the parent or are more than they consider normal, then then can have talk to their health visitor who will refer to Aideen or Ciara.

Their aim is to offer help at the earliest opportunity so that the parent and baby’s relationship is given the best start. Examples of problems may be if a mother (or sometimes it is the father) is suffering from antenatal or postnatal depression, or maybe the child is irritable and the parent finds it hard to cope with or there is feeding problems that stress the relationship between the baby and parent. Aideen is also dedicated to helping parents manage children with sleep difficulties and runs sleep clinics in the Omagh area.

Speaking about their role, Aideen, Specialist Health Visitor in Infant Mental at the Western Trust said: “It is well documented that pregnancy and the first year of life can be a challenging time for parents. We recognise that, and we want to help support and nurture you and your baby’s very special relationship.”

Additional, Ciara Mc Closkey, Specialist Health Visitor in Infant Mental Health, added; “Speak to your Health Visitor and she will put you in touch with us. The work we will do with you is not intrusive; it is simply to help you think about what is happening in a different way. It is confidential and we aim to be available very quickly as we know you and your baby can’t wait.”

Kieran Downey, Director of Women and Children’s Service said: “As a Trust we recognise that improving long-term outcomes for the whole population begins with ensuring that every child has the best start in life. I am delighted that we are able to offer parents and families the expert guidance from our Specialist Health Visitors through prevention and early invention.”

For further information, parents should contact their health visitor.