Research has shown that many mental health conditions are preventable if the correct care is given early on in life, particularly in the first three years. £10 spent on providing a sure footing for a child’s mental health and wellbeing has been shown to save up to £70 in the costs of care and support in adolescence and adulthood.
Our Early Intervention Project is based in Sutton, and aims to reach expectant mums during their pregnancy. We began this project by working with pregnant women to reduce the toxic effects of stress on the development of their unborn child.
Once the baby has been born, mothers are offered Video Interaction Guidance, an intervention which encourages caregivers to reflect on how they interact with their baby by showing them video clips of naturally occurring positive bonding moments.
Babies in Mind is helping families from approximately the seventh month of pregnancy until the child is 18 months old. During this time we will evaluate the outcomes; monitor the quality of parent-infant relationships, parental behaviours and attitudes, and the children’s social and emotional development.
We hope to secure funding to extend this until the children start school. We will provide evidence on the impact and effectiveness of this new model of infant health promotion and with your support can provide evidence based recommendations and guidelines to improve the lives of more families.
This intervention has been shown to improve communication and attachment between mother and baby, and can help to protect the baby against developing emotional or behavioural problems in later life. We will then continue to support parents throughout the first few years of their child’s life, working with Home-Start to match parent support ‘buddies’ with new families.
We are working with a range of organisations across Sutton to deliver this project, including Sutton CAMHS, Sutton Council and Home-Start, as well as GPs, midwives and health visitors.
The Early Intervention Project focuses on:
• Targeting families at greater risk of having children who may develop emotional, social and behavioural problems. This could include families where parents have mental health problems, may have been in care themselves, may have a history of substance abuse or long-term unemployment.
• Providing information and offering the opportunity for guidance and support in the family home from early pregnancy up to the time when the child starts school.
• Mentoring and supporting the development of a strong bond/attachment between parent and infant and setting a template for effective parenting
• Supporting strong couple relationships to provide a stable family environment for young children.
• Helping fathers to develop as valuable, supportive parents.
We will evaluate the impact on the child at the age of two, at school starting age and at seven years old, and measure changes in parents' attitudes and parenting skills. The lessons learnt from the interventions will help to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of other vulnerable children, and offer recommendations for future provision by statutory services, voluntary sector organisations and GPs.