Expanding Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Supports and Services: A Planning Tool for States and Communities
Infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) refers to the social, emotional, and behavioral area of development in infants and young children under 5 years old. A strong foundation of social and emotional health is the cornerstone of all other areas of development in the first years of life, affecting social, physical, cognitive, and communication development. IECMH is also a term used to describe the range of services and supports necessary to promote healthy development, prevent mental health problems, and treat mental health disorders. Building a comprehensive and cohesive system of IECMH services and supports requires collaboration across professions and systems. This tool provides a framework for convening individuals who share an interest in the well-being of children and families. The tool can help organize strategic planning, inventory existing resources to identify gaps and needs, and create shared goals for service delivery that align with best practices in IECMH.
This action-oriented tool provides a set of questions that can help inform and organize cross-system, multi-sector planning efforts; inventory existing resources, policies, and programs; identify gaps and missing linkages; and align policy with best practice. The tool guides users through data collection and analysis across six areas of consideration.
Six Areas of Consideration for IECMH Supports and Services
- Robust access to a continuum of supports and services (promotion, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment)
- Strong workforce capacity and professional development
- Embedding IECMH across child-serving systems
- Comprehensive, system-wide planning and infrastructure
- Properly financed system
- Effective messaging that builds public and political will