06 June 2016
As part of the UK’s first national Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, Jersey is supporting ‘Building Babies Minds’, a campaign which highlights the importance of laying the foundation of the mind for good mental health in infancy.
Growing research, nationally and internationally, shows that:
- from birth to age 18 months, connections in the brain are created at a rate of one million per second. The earliest experiences shape a baby’s brain development and have a lifelong impact on that baby’s mental health
- when a baby’s development falls behind the norm during the first year of life, it is much more likely to fall behind in subsequent years, making it harder to catch up
- a baby’s social and emotional development is strongly affected by the quality of their attachment to their caregivers.
In January 2015, Jersey introduced the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto which highlights the importance of acting early to enhance the outcomes for children. It recognises that many children and young people do not have the start in life that they need and deserve which leads to high costs for our society.
The Minister for Home Affairs, Deputy Kristina Moore, has special responsibility for 1001 Critical Days and has established a Taskforce to ensure that early years are prioritised.
She said “Our vision is for all babies, children and young people to grow up in a safe, supportive Island community in which they achieve their full potential and lead happy, healthy lives.
“There is a great deal of positive work already in progress in Jersey to promote infant mental health. We work very closely with partner organisations to deliver practical courses which help parents and carers develop supportive family relationships.”
Chief Executive Officer of Brighter Futures, Ruth Brunton, said “We recognise the importance of infant mental health and as part of our ongoing work, we offer a range of programmes, such as Mellow Parenting, which aim to promote bonding and attachment and increasing confidence in the ability to parent and support children’s development.”
One of the aims of Taskforce is to build on existing good practice and continue to work in partnership to deliver even better services that will have a long term impact on the mental health and wellbeing of babies and infants. Plans include improving antenatal preparation in Jersey and investing in parent infant psychotherapy services in the community.