Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: Supporting Healthy Social-Emotional Development
Angela C. Baum, Ph. D.
Kerrie Schnake, M.A.
Dolores A. Stegelin, Ph. D
Date: February 2020
Publication Type: Issue Briefs & Policy Reports
Policy Area: Building Stronger Early Childhood Systems
Page Count: 15
Early childhood mental health is defined as the capacity of a child from birth to age five to experience, express and regulate emotions; form close, secure interpersonal relationships; and explore his/her environment and learn, all within the context of family and cultural expectations. This Brief focuses on the emerging research, policy, and practice related to infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH). It is presented as a tool to educate and inform decision-makers, administrators, community leaders, parents, and health and education professionals about the issues related to IECMH.
In this paper we will examine the value of attending to the mental health of very young children, also referred to as their social-emotional or relational health; review the research literature; describe the impacts of IECMH issues; discuss programs that support mental health in young children; and make future IECMH research and policy recommendations.