Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH)
Topic Editor: Andy Gommandypgomm@gmail.com
IECMH addresses the social-emotional well-being of young children from birth to age 5 and provides a framework of promotion, preventive-intervention, and treatment approaches that are provided within the context of the child's relationship with their parent(s) and other caregivers.
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What Is Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health?
Social-emotional development is one of the developmental domains that must be addressed as a part of the evaluation and assessments to determine eligibility (34 CFR §303.321) and in the IFSP (34 CFR §303.344), and includes the child's ability to:
- identify and understand their own feelings;
- accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others;
- manage strong emotions and their expression constructively;
- regulate their behavior;
- develop empathy for others; and
- to establish and maintain relationships.
"IECMH is the developing capacity of the child from birth to 5 years old to form close and secure adult and peer relationships; experience, manage, and express a full range of emotions; and explore the environment and learn—all in the context of family, community, and culture."
Briefing Paper: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Early Intervention (Part C)
This briefing paper explores Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) policies and practices that state early intervention (Part C) programs may consider implementing to meet the social-emotional and mental health needs of infants and toddlers in the context of relationships with their parents and other caregivers.Get Started
NCPMI supports the capacity of state systems and local programs to implement the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. NCPMI is a federal funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs and provides a range of tools and resources, professional development, and technical assistance.
Early Childhood Mental Health
"As early experiences shape the architecture of the developing brain, they also lay the foundations of sound mental health. Disruptions to this developmental process can impair a child's capacities for learning and relating to others — with lifelong implications.
An Interdisciplinary Field
IECMH is also an emerging interdisciplinary field dedicated to understanding and promoting the social and emotional well-being of all infants, young children, and families within the context of secure and nurturing relationships. A number of states have Associations of Infant Mental Health (AIMHs) that support professional development, endorsement, and promotion of IECMH policies and funding mechanisms.
The Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health includes links to affiliated AIMHs in over 30 states and the California Association for Infant Mental Health (CalAIMH) is an independent AIMH.
Trauma and Toxic Stress
Neuroscience has shown that trauma and toxic stress experienced by infants and young children can have negative consequences on early brain development and can lead to negative lifelong developmental, mental, and health outcomes. IECMH practices and services can promote a child's resilience, as well as developmental and mental health outcomes, through supporting nurturing relationships with parents and other adults in the child's life.
See also: Child Maltreatment
National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)
NCCP provides a searchable collection of research-informed IECMH policies and research on key IECMH strategies: PRiSM: Promoting Research-informed State Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health Policies and Scaled Initiatives.
Center of Excellence for IECMH Consultation
The Center of Excellence for IECMH Consultation provides technical assistance to increase access to high-quality mental health consultation across an array of early childhood programs and includes resources and professional development.
ZERO TO THREE
ZERO TO THREE provides an array of resources through their Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Policy Series.
Supporting Social-Emotional and Mental Health Needs of Young Children Through Part C Early Intervention: Results of a 50-State Survey
This webinar presents key findings from a 50-state survey from the National Center for Children and Poverty (NCCP) and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) on supports for social-emotional and mental health needs in Part C Early Intervention.
Topics include: screening, referral, and evaluation; eligibility; services for eligible and ineligible children; and collaboration, including referrals under CAPTA and Medicaid funding.
Presenters from NCCP, CCF and ECTA use the survey to discuss opportunities for strengthening state Part C policies and their implementation. They also highlight examples of promising state policies and practices.