Parent-infant mental health matters in Warwickshire!

1 in 5 women in Warwickshire experience depression or anxiety in pregnancy or the first year after birth and more than 1 in 10 expectant or new dads develop similar issues.

This was reflected in the Smart Start engagement work with over 1,030 parents in the county, which suggests there’s more we need to do about promoting and supporting parent and infant mental health and wellbeing.

On Tuesday 23rd May 2017, the Warwickshire Public Health team coordinated an important Smart Start event , focused on mapping parent-infant mental health services in Warwickshire and agreeing next steps to improving parental mental health in the first 1001 critical days of an infant’s life.

Over 60 people from across Warwickshire joined the workshop including Warwickshire County Council, the NHS, early year’s representatives, third sector providers, the community and voluntary sector. Workshop delegates heard from two nationally recognised experts in the field of parent-infant mental health and wellbeing; Debi Maskell-Graham, Author and Director of Big Toes Little Toes, who spoke about the importance of attachment and the parent-infant relationship, and Dawn Cannon, Director of Warwick Infant and Family Wellbeing, Warwick University, who talked of steps Warwickshire could take to strengthen parent-infant mental health support.

The workshop generated many positive ideas:

• The need to set up a strategic partnership that will lead on the parent-infant mental health in Warwickshire

• The need for services to engage in mental health awareness raising campaigns

• The promotion of emotional wellbeing and the tackling of stigma relating to mental ill-health

• The development of training and support for frontline workers, communities and families, including training in attachment and infant mental health

• Development of online resources for practitioners, communities and families

• Improved support for dads, as they often get missed

• Support for families where there are relationship conflicts.

Dr John Linnane, Director of Public Health said “Promoting parent-infant mental health and wellbeing is a priority agenda. We know that by the time children reach 14 years of age, 50% of them are already experiencing mental health issues. We need to act early – during the first 1001 critical days of an infant’s life. Parents experiencing mental health problems need speedy support, and every child needs the best start in life – this is an important investment in Warwickshire’s future.”

For more information on the Smart Start programme, please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/smartstart , email smartstart@warwickshire.gov.uk or call 01926 413788.