Last month, Part 1 of this theme issue provided an overview of some important clinical issues in infant mental health. Clinicians discussed the conceptual basis of attachment, community-based care, postpartum depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder . This month, Part 2 provides some suggestions for specific clinical interventions. Carolyn Steinberg addresses the important topic of feeding difficulties in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Then, Pratibha Reebye and Terry Kope examine the clinical resources available for an infant with less than optimal attachment experiences. Finally, Pratibha Reebye and Aileen Stalker examine difficulties related to a child’s extreme sensitivity to sensory experiences. All three articles look at contributions from both parent and child to infant mental health, paying attention to the unique characteristics of each relational partner.
Infant mental health is clearly a multidisciplinary field. The broad range of clinicians who have written articles for Parts 1 and 2 illustrate this. The issues include contributions from those working in the fields of pediatrics, child psychiatry, occupational therapy, and child and family therapy. Others who might have contributed can be found providing care to young children and their families in the fields of nursing, social work, psychology, speech and language pathology, and early childhood education. A great deal of training occurs on the job, since British Columbia (unlike Ontario, for example) does not offer a formal training program for infant mental health workers.
In most cases, parents certainly want to do their best. This makes working in the area of infant mental health very rewarding, as parents are usually grateful for professionals who support them in developing mutually enjoyable relationships with their young children. We hope that with the implementation of the Child and Youth Mental Health Plan resources throughout the province we will see infant mental health services expanded so that required services are available to all families. To help physicians locate suitable resources, we are including a Community Resources List (Table Page 1, Page 2).
Just as working with infants and families requires a collaborative effort, so did the compilation of these articles. We could like to thank our colleagues and the editorial staff at the BCMJ for their work, patience, and support. We would also like to acknowledge the role of Dr Hira Panikkar, who pioneered infant mental health services in the province and was a mentor and dear friend to many of the contributing authors. Hira passed away almost 5 years ago; her memory continues to inspire us.
—Terry Kope, MD, FRCPC
Clinical assistant professor, University of British Columbia
Psychiatric consultant, Alan Cashmore Centre, Vancouver Community Mental Health Services
—Pamela S. Lansky, MA, MEd, RCC
Burnaby Family Life Institute
Pacific Post Partum Support Society
1. Hospital for Sick Children. Certificate in infant mental health. 2006. www.sickkids.ca/imp/section.asp?s=Certificate+in+Infant+Mental+Health&sID=7512 (accessed 12 December 2006).
2. Stern D. Introduction to the special issue on early preventive intervention and home visiting. Infant Ment Health J 2006;27:1-3.
3. Ministry of Children and Family Development. Child and youth mental health plan. 2003. www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/mental_health/mh_publications/cymh_plan.htm (accessed 12 December 2006).
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