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Herts marks Infant Mental Health Week by pledging more training

08 Jun 17 - 07 Jun 18

Hertfordshire was the first county to fund infant mental health training for all kinds of different professionals who work with new parents, parents-to-be and young families.

Over the last year, as part of Hertfordshire’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Transformation, East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Herts Valleys CCG have funded 120 places on a 16-week training course in infant mental health, which teaches how parents' behaviour and emotional wellbeing affects their baby's emotional development, wellbeing and mental health.

Graduates included GPs, midwives, social workers, health visitors and children’s centre staff. Now, to mark Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (12-16 June), it is planned to offer more training spaces on an online course called Infant Mental Health Online (IMHOL) run by the University of Warwick.

"The feedback has been incredible," said Maria Nastri, CAMHS Transformation Manager. "Everyone has praised the training, saying it has changed the way they work for the better. It’s given them a huge understanding of the impact of parental mental health on a developing child and their long-term mental health."

Tracey Oliver, staff nurse at Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation University NHS Trust's Thumbswood mother and baby unit, in Radlett, which supports mums and their babies after they’ve experienced mental health issues, said the course had "opened her eyes" and the unit is rolling out the training to all staff.

"The key thing I took away from the training is the importance of the relationship between mum, or the parents, and baby, because we’d always been more focused on the maternal mental health," she explained. "Although a lot of us have worked here a lot of years and we know lots of things about that relationship and how mental health can impact on that relationship, actually having the knowledge behind that, why things happen and what we can actually do to improve the outcome for mum and baby and baby’s future mental health as well."

Jan McKeown, Hertfordshire County Council family intervention worker, said IMHOL had been extremely useful to her practice. "When parents realise that there’s a cause for some of the challenging behaviour they’re experiencing and they can see a reason behind it, it helps them to understand and empathise more with what the child might be going through or feeling, which changes their approach… and often I can see that relationships improve as a result."

Social worker Robert Lewis, from the county council’s safeguarding team, said the course meant he could now show parents, in an objective way, how their behaviour was affecting their children. "I got a really good understanding of how a child develops, brain development, of the influences of family, the importance of care givers and really. Personally it gave me a lot of confidence."

Watch the three of them talking about the benefits of the training:




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