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Infant Mental Health Week - Inspiring Scotland

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The latest stories from Inspiring Scotland and our partner charities.

Infant Mental Health Week

This year, we are exploring how the third sector supports good infant mental health, and what we can do to support, develop and add value to infant mental health provision. 

Research shows that investing in the earliest years of life makes the biggest difference. The first 1,001 days of a baby’s life (through pregnancy and the first two years of life), is a critical time for brain development, with more influence on a person’s future than any other time. 

As fund managers of the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government, we’ve seen first-hand the transformational impact of the third sector who work directly with babies and families.  

But where is it best to focus our support to make the biggest difference?  

To help us find the answer, we set off on an infant mental health tour of Scotland!  

So far, we’ve spoken with some of the country’s top infant mental health experts from the third sector to the NHS and from funders and academics. Our wide-ranging conversations have been inspiring and thought-provoking 

While each person has a different perspective, everyone agreed: 

  • Right from the start, babies are on an incredible and important journey of learning.  
  • Babies have emotional needs, and they are constantly communicating with us.  
  • Those who are around babies need to listen and respectfully be their voice.  
  • Babies and toddlers are people, with agency and rights and, while the most important person for a baby is their primary caregiver, everyone in society needs to play their role to advocate for, and champion, our youngest citizens.

When we reflected on putting babies at the heart of our work and what this would mean for a baby born in 2023 in Scotland, we asked ourselves…if this baby could talk, what do you think they would say? 

“Hello, my name is Sophie and I’m five months old. 

 

Did you know that in the first year of my life, over one million connections are being formed in my growing brain every second?  

 

Going from my mummy’s tummy to the noisy and bright world has been a big change. The most important thing to me is relationships. My family cuddle me, play with me, talk and sing to me. I can’t talk yet so they listen to me when I tell them with my eyes, body or voice when I like or don’t like something. 

 

From birth, I am my own person and have rights that protect me and keep me safe. 

 

Everything in the world is new for me – I’m born ready to learn and I’m excited for what my future holds.” 

Stay tuned as we keep Sophie in mind and we continue our conversations with people working across infant mental health in Scotland.  

Whilst we know the earliest years matter, we also recognise there’s no single element that determines someone’s future. You can have a difficult beginning and still go on to live a happy and healthy life. 

Our work on the PIMH fund is part of our strategic focus of ‘improving the life chances of children and young people’. We want to work in partnership and collaboratively with others on this collective mission and are grateful to everyone we have spoken with already.  

If you’re working in infant mental health or interested in investing in the early years, we’d love to hear from you 

Some of the organisations and papers that are helping to shape our thinking are:  

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