Tulane Institute of Infant and
Early Childhood Mental Health
What is Infant Mental Health?
Infant Mental Health refers to the quality of social and emotional development
of children in the first few years of life. The field of Infant Mental
Health is a multidisciplinary approach to enhancing these aspects of development.
Why does it matter?
Convincing evidence suggests that serious problems like delinquency, school
failure, interpersonal violence, and premature parenthood have their roots
in early childhood relationship experiences. These are problems that cripple
our current and future work forces and undermine economic growth by producing
resource consumers rather than contributors.
What are the goals of Infant Mental Health?
To enhance social competence and emotional well-being in young children
and their families, to prevent risk factors from having an adverse effect
on development, and to reduce or eliminate suffering.
Can problems be identified in very young children?
Yes, young children who are at high risk for disorders likely to emerge
later are well delineated, and many psychological disorders can be reliably
identified even in the first few years of life.
Are there treatments that are effective in helping very young children?
Yes, studies have indicated that intensive treatments of young children
and their parents are effective in enhancing development, preventing later
problems, and ameliorating disturbances in early childhood.
Can problems be prevented? Yes, there is evidence that prevention
efforts can be quite successful and cost effective, if the investment
made is substantial and long-term.
Is special training required to practice Infant Mental Health?
Yes, mental health professionals, even those trained as practitioners
to work with children and families, usually require specialized training
to work effectively with young children and their families.
Are there any efforts underway in Louisiana?
Yes, there is internationally recognized expertise in Louisiana available
through programs at Tulane and L.S.U. Medical Schools, for example. Further,
the Offices of Public Health and Mental Health have begun to support program
development in this area throughout the state.
Can more be done?
You bet! The investment that we as a state have made is minuscule in comparison
to the need and the potential for improving the lives of young children.
Health and social well-being indicators in Louisiana for young children
remain among the very lowest in the United States.
How can I learn more?
Contact Geoffrey Nagle at the Tulane Institute of Infant and Early Childhood
Mental Health at (504) 988-8241, firstname.lastname@example.org,
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