Children and young people

Infant Mental Health is the recognition that a baby’s early years, from conception to 3 years, are deeply significant as his brain is developing every minute of every day.

Research tells us that how we respond to a baby during these early years directly impacts on how their brain develops.

The brain is the most immature organ at birth and the pathways in the brain are shaped by the responses they receive from their caregivers.  At birth there are an abundance of cells but very few connections, these connections grow through life experiences. Essentially what this means is that love grows brains as loving and responsive experiences in their life through key relationships during the first few years will affect how the brain connects and is shaped. This brain development in these early years affects many aspects of their health – physical, mental and emotional right from infancy through to adolescence and into adulthood.

With the right support during these early years children are more likely to experience and benefit from:

  • Being able to form long term loving relationships
  • Better brain development and improved academic achievement
  • Being less at risk of mental ill health
  • Being less at risk of dependence on drug and/or alcohol use
  • Being less at risk of eating disorders
  • Being less likely to show anti-social, violent and aggressive behaviour
  • Being able to show empathy and have compassion for others

With this in mind the Western Trust have invested in Five Infant Mental Health messages and a number of initiatives which support the Infant Mental Health agenda:

  1. No smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy
  2. Breastfeed your baby
  3. Read a story to your child every day
  4. Give your child lots of love, affection and praise
  5. Have fun and play with your child

Useful websites

To see Children and Young People resources click here.

The Health Improvement Department provide a range of free information leaflets and training opportunities.

To view our catalogue of resources click here.

To view our Training Brochure for activites click here.