What is infant and early childhood mental health?
Infant and early mental health is the social, emotional, and cognitive wellbeing of infants and young children.
In January 2021, our focus expanded to encompass ages prenatal to age 5, and our name has changed to Infant and Early Mental Health Promotion (IEMHP).
Infant and early mental health practice refers to the promotion of optimal development and wellbeing in infants and young children (prenatal to age five) and their families, the prevention of difficulties, and intervention when children are at risk or have identified problems. The goal of infant and early mental health services is to ensure optimal child outcomes in terms of a sense of security and self-esteem, and the ability to form satisfying relationships, to engage with the world, to learn, to cope and problem-solve, and to continue positive development throughout life. Infant and early mental health services strive to promote stable and supportive families and communities.
IEMHP is a coalition of individuals and professional representatives from agencies concerned with young children and their families. We are dedicated to promoting optimal mental health outcomes for the youngest by developing and supporting best practices through education and training, dissemination of information, networking, research, and advocacy.
IEMHP was initiated in 1988 by the Department of Psychiatry of The Hospital for Sick Children as the Infant Mental Health Promotion Project of Toronto. Since then, we have grown considerably into a national organization and maintain strong representation from community-based agencies across Canada. IEMHP provides a collaborative, informed and passionate voice for young children, families and caregivers.
To improve outcomes across the lifespan, we translate and promote the science of early mental health into practice with families during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood.