NHS Dumfries & Galloway

Parents’ and carers’ help sought on infant mental health service

NHS DUMFRIES and Galloway is developing a new Infant Mental Health Service – and is looking for help from parents and carers across the region.

Parents or carers of infants up until their third birthday are invited to describe their experiences of child services and give suggestions for better care by completing the online surveys at https://forms.office.com/r/1JVbaXaLkb and https://forms.office.com/r/tahwwwQ7jB.

As well as helping choose a name for the service, parents and carers can let the health board know about previous support they have received for their children – and suggest how it can be improved.

Dr Anna Robson is a Clinical Psychologist at Mountainhall Treatment Centre in Dumfries, working on the development of the service.

She says: “Awareness and understanding of Infant mental health is extremely important as it influences health and wellbeing across the lifespan. Positive infant mental health promotes positive social, emotional and brain development. Infant mental health relates to an infant’s ability to experience a wide range of emotions, develop safe and close relationships with important people in their lives and explore their environment and learn new skills.

“The focus of the service will be on enhancing the parent-infant relationship. This will involve boosting parenting confidence, helping parents better understand their baby by observing babies’ behaviour together, understanding how our own childhood affects us later in life and learning about child development.

“This work might be done individually with a mental health clinician or in a group setting. Alternatively the infant mental health service might work with the professionals already supporting you, such as a health visitor, so they can better understand the needs of you and your baby.

“We hope to learn from parents’ and carers’ past experience of child services, what their needs are and how they would like those needs to be best met.”

Consultation on the details of the service will begin in September, with the final plan due to be drawn up in late 2022 in time for the service to launch early next year.