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Putting Infant Mental Health at the forefront with Babies in Scotland conference - Inspiring Scotland

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Putting Infant Mental Health at the forefront with Babies in Scotland conference

We kicked off the new year by hosting the first online conference of its kind in Scotland – Infant Mental Health: Babies in Scotland 2024.  

This event was in partnership with the Scottish Government and was our biggest event yet with 588 people attending on the day. It was incredible to get that many people in the virtual room and was a real testament to the drive and passion of Scotland’s workforce to make it a priority to listen to the baby’s voice.

The event was opened by Dr Anne McFadyen, Infant Mental Health Clinical Advisor for the Scottish Government, who gave a moving and thought provoking presentation on the importance of getting it right for every baby. It is paramount to ensure that every baby in Scotland experiences nurturing care that they need to develop their full potential.

“I won’t remember anything about what’s happening to me now, but it will affect me for the rest of my life… you can be part of helping make it the best start possible”

 

Making Scotland the best place to grow up

Ms Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport spoke passionately about recognising infant mental health and wanting Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up. Ms Todd announced a new resource for early years professionals which brings together resources for supporting babies, infants and young children’s mental health and wellbeing.

 

Listening to the baby’s voice

To put this new learning into practice, we followed four fictional baby case studies. In each case study we had a group of cross sector professionals come together to discuss the wraparound care that they would put in place to support that baby and their family, and to give voice to the baby of what they experience as a result of challenges families face

Each fictional baby was born in Scotland into different circumstances:

 

  • Baby Story 1: Following the first two years of life of a baby born in Caithness
  • Baby Story 2: The experience of a New Scots family who are living in temporary accommodation in Glasgow
  • Baby Story 3: Following the story of a new born baby who was removed from her birth parents and is living with a foster family
  • Baby Story 4: Case study of a newborn baby following a brief stay in neonatal care and the mental health support given to baby and their family

 

These discussions proved insightful and thought provoking. It was brilliant to see the powerful impact of joined up and collaborative working between the third sector and statutory services.

 

One of the unique things about the event was the consideration given to the voice of the infant, with many of the case studies being told from the baby’s perspective. For example:

“…I was too small to understand what ‘scared’ is yet, my tiny body is born with all it needs to help me try to survive. I was flooded with stress again. Although I won’t be able to talk about this or remember it later, my system will remember that I was really scared in these very early moments of my life. I am born ready to learn quickly what I can expect from grown-ups and what the world is like.”

 

A future with babies in mind

Towards the end of the conference, we asked the question – where do we go from here? How do we keep up momentum.

It’s important to keep raising awareness of the importance of Infant Mental Health and what we can do as adults to be advocates for our smallest citizens.

Practitioners from all over Scotland shared their biggest takeaways from the day:

 

“That babies and infants are now being identified in their own right, rather than being grouped under children and young people. This ensures that their individual needs can be identified with more clarity and allows them to have a voice and for this voice to be heard.  The use of the child telling the story in the case study was very powerful, to gain an understanding of how they feel.”

 

“I felt reinspired about the importance of embedding the infant voice in all aspects of practice.”

 

“…it really gets people feeling excited about the topic and wanting to try and help the families we work with.”

 

Resources

Interested in learning more? Here are some further reading materials and training opportunities.

For more information for parents and carers, visit: https://www.parentclub.scot/topics/wellbeing-and-mental-health

 

Understanding Infant Mental Health:

 

Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Voice of the Infant Guidelines

 

Infant Mental Health Training Opportunities:

 

 

Directory of Services:

 

Support for Dads:

 

Babies Born Prematurely:

 

 

British Association of Perinatal Medicine

 

 

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