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The Importance of Infant Mental Health

Many individuals mistakenly believe that adolescents and adults are the only members of our community who face mental health issues since discussions about mental health frequently centre on their experiences. Infants and young children's mental health is rarely taken into account with the assumption that 'children have simple uncomplicated experiences and face no distress' Unfortunately, many mental health issues can be traced back to difficulties experienced in infancy and early childhood, necessitating early interventions for these developing minds in order to avert mental health illnesses in the future. Infant mental health refers to an infant's emotional and social development as well as their overall well-being up to the age of three.

Numerous studies over the years have shown that children need two things: a warm home, a sense that others care about them, and a predictable routine. They must be aware of what to anticipate. They require a strong sense of dependability and structure all around them. In order to achieve warmth, play with your child, talk to them, and cuddle them. Enjoy your baby. These actions will make you and your child feel good, and they actually cause the production of hormones that will strengthen your relationship with your child.

The arrival of a new baby can be exciting—and stressful! Parents frequently stress over everything they have to accomplish and question whether they're doing it correctly. By doing simple things like chatting to their baby, responding to their baby's smiles or screams, and comforting their baby when the baby is sad or terrified, parents can promote their baby's mental health.

All of these activities, which parents take unconsciously most of the time, aid in the development of trusting connections between infants and their primary caregivers. We now understand that a baby's general mental health can be supported when the baby feels safe in their relationships with their primary caregivers.

As highlighted before, infant’s emotional health is closely correlated with the efficiency of their families and primary caregivers. These connections are a significant risk factor for the emergence of early mental health issues when they are abusive, threatening, chronically negligent, or psychologically destructive. Relationships, on the other hand, can equally protect young children from the negative consequences of additional stressors provided they are consistently responsive and helpful. Therefore, alleviating the stressors in the family environment also in the infant-caregiver relationship is necessary to lessen the stressors that affect infants.

Our overall health and well-being is fundamentally impacted by our mental health. You as a parent can do a lot to promote your child's mental health. Nurturing and affectionate attention builds a solid foundation for your child's social and emotional development, giving them the tools, they need to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Thandeka Dindi,

Educational Psychologist Intern,

Ububele Educational Psychotherapy Trust

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