Infants’ mental health in focus

By Farnham Herald in Local People

HEALTH visitors in Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust have been supporting the second annual Infant Mental Health Awareness Week by holding a number of events across Hampshire.

In Alton, the awareness initiative began early, on June 7, with an event at Waitrose, on Station Road, while Alresford Baby Clinic provided the venue for another event yesterday last Wednesday.

This year, the awareness week has centred on the theme ‘Begin Before Birth’, highlighting the importance of giving every baby the best possible start in life and focusing on the first 1,001 days of a child’s life.

Health visitors working at Southern Health Foundation Trust have been running a series of free events in collaboration with children’s charity Barnardo’s to introduce families to the significance of infant mental health during pregnancy and beyond.

The week is providing an opportunity for families to talk to their health visitor about their own or their child’s emotional wellbeing.

Health-visiting teams are sharing ideas on a range of different play activities that promote development and emotional wellbeing in young babies. The aim is to make parenting fun and help new parents get to know their babies and understand simple “baby cues” that will make parenting easier.

Anwen Evans, specialist health visitor for infant and perinatal mental health, said: “We now know that emotional preparation for parenthood is just as important as the physical side. We want to support women to manage any potential stress and anxiety and to start to build a relationship with their baby in the womb, which have all been shown to reduce harmful cortisol levels during pregnancy.

“Children’s brains grow rapidly in the first three years of life, so during the events we will share “top tips” on building babies brains including simple activities like responding to the noises that your baby is making, playing games like peek-a-boo, singing songs and looking at picture books together.”

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