Why a baby’s mental health really matters

By Dr Nicole Milburn, Infant Mental Health Consultant & Jen Willis, Communications Consultant, Berry Street – Take Two 

As a community we often discuss the poor mental health of adults and young people, but rarely do we really look at the mental health of babies. This is unfortunate because it is the relationships and environment a baby experiences during infancy that often set the conditions for that baby’s mental health during later adolescence and adulthood.

What is mental health for a baby?
There are three key factors that define early mental health and wellbeing.

Continue reading “Why a baby’s mental health really matters”

Early Childhood: the importance of the early years

This post is part of our series on what makes a good childhood.

Although intuition tells us how important a child’s early experiences are, the evidence is now overwhelming. A good childhood really is the foundation for a healthy adult life and cohesive society.

Over the previous decade, we have seen a greater focus on, and understanding of, the importance of childhood wellbeing, both from an objective and subjective perspective. It is now generally understood that children’s wellbeing is crucial, not just for their own lives, but for society as a whole. Continue reading “Early Childhood: the importance of the early years”

What makes a good childhood: Pre-pregnancy

We know that the foundations for a good childhood start well before conception. This may seem a little strange at first, but there are a number of key domains that are important for the future child to have functioning well enough in their prospective parents.

By Dr. Nicole Milburn, Senior Manager for Infant Mental Health and Developmental Consultancies, Take Two

Some of you might remember from my guest blog in late July that I promised to write a series of posts about the importance of a good infancy for a good childhood.

In the meantime I have been diverted by other Institute activities, not least of which was the national speaking tour of Dr. Bruce D. Perry, Child Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist. Dr. Perry and his colleagues at the ChildTrauma Academy have made an enormous contribution to our understanding of the impact of trauma on development. They have clearly articulated that the brain develops in a sequential way, from the most primitive functions to the most complex. This means it is vital that we understand what happens and when it happens within the timeline of the developing brain so that we can understand the impact of events and what to then do about it. This model also gives the appropriate emphasis on very early development as laying the foundation for life.

A couple pre-pregnancyWe know, however, that the foundations for a good childhood start well before conception. This may seem a little strange at first, but there are a number of key domains that are important for the future child to have functioning well enough in their prospective parents. Continue reading “What makes a good childhood: Pre-pregnancy”

Early Childhood Development

shutterstock_176031968

Berry Street has always worked with children and young people at the most complex end of the continuum of risk and vulnerability, as a consequence of their experiences of child abuse and neglect.

As part of a commitment to prevent the harm that disrupts healthy child development, we are mindful of the need to intervene sooner, critically during the early years.

In keeping with this commitment, we are delighted to welcome back to Australia Dr Kristie Brandt, internationally renowned teacher, clinician, consultant, Assistant Clinical Professor of Paediatrics at the University of California Davis School of Medicine and Director of the Parent-Infant & child Institute in Napa, USA.

Kristie Brandt_Bio Photos 001

We are proudly sponsoring Dr Brandt’s 4th September workshop on Professional Roles in Supporting Infant-Parent Mental Health as part of the Early Childhood Australia conference. We appreciate Dr Brandt’s contribution to understanding: the importance of the quality of the infant-parent and child-parent relationship; how infants shape and are shaped by relationships with their parents and other important adults in their lives; and the unique relationship between every parent and child and how it makes infant and early childhood mental health work both challenging and exciting.

We will also have an exhibition table at the Early Childhood Australia conference. If you are attending, please stop past and introduce yourself to Joanna Bock, our Statewide Manager of Early Learning is Fun program.

Post written by: Pam Miranda, Senior Manager Knowledge Development, Berry Street Childhood Institute

Therapeutic Preschool: Building Emotional Regulation

Sumner_1

Sumner Mental Health Services provide therapeutic support to the Futures Unlimited Preschools in Wellington KS. Specifically they provide support via the provision of Mental Health Case Management and a role called Individual Psychosocial Rehabilitation workers (IPR), for children classified with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED).

I observed the absolute value of the IPR role in the preschool setting as I watched an IPR with a 6 year old child with significant emotional disturbance.  From the outset of allocated time, the IPR provided this child with one to one, undivided attention, co-regulation and supported emotionally and developmentally respectful redirection when necessary.  Enacting her role, the IPR was regularly in physical contact with the child in the classroom.

The IPR worker scaffolded the child from activity to activity in transitions, keeping distractions to a minimum and providing nothing short of opportunities for success for the child, all of this done through largely relational based interaction and regulation.

What really stood out to me was the fact that this child, in the hour supported by the IPR was able to experience success and a baseline level of emotional regulation, contrary to descriptions that had been given of her.

shutterstock_3095802Imagine the long term benefits we could achieve if our kindergarten/preschool children who struggle emotionally, received opportunities like this at the time when their brains are still actively organising neural networks.  Could we start to create early changes in neural templates from over active stress response systems and emotional dysregulation to enable younger children a better platform for self-regulation?

Edited version of a post written by: Michelle (Chelle) Taylor, Clinical Psychologist and NMT Consultant, Take Two Program