The Southern Trust Infant Mental Health Team, i-CAMHS is marking ten years of service.
i-CAMHS was originally set up as part of the Trust’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, as the first in Northern Ireland to directly provide intensive specialist support to children under three years old and their parents or primary care givers.
Majella Connolly, Senior Infant Mental Health Practitioner and Team Leader explains: “The first three years of life are the most influential on brain development which is very dependent on the interaction between the infant and their main care giver and the environment in which they live. As an infant’s early experiences can influence their mental wellbeing throughout their life, it is crucial that parents are supported in their developing relationship with their baby and toddler. There are many social or emotional experiences in modern life that can disrupt the development of a positive parent infant relationship. We are here to offer additional specialist interventions and support to these families to make sure their little ones get the best start in life and they can enjoy their relationship with their child.”
i-CAMHS collaborates with a range of health professionals and early years organisations, taking referrals and offering training and advice on infant mental health issues.
Practitioners are trained in specialist early interventions including the Solihull program, Systemic Practice, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychoanalytical theory, Infant Observation, Video Interaction Guidance, Birthing Awareness and continued to support families throughout the pandemic.
Over the past decade, the team have continually developed their service, researching and promoting the importance of parent infant relationships in the early years and participating in a number of local, regional and national initiatives to improve infant and parental mental health.
Feedback on the service has been very positive with good engagement from parents and carers, improved parent-infant relationships, better mental wellbeing for infants and their carers and overall healthier family functioning.
Congratulating the Team, Interim Director of Children and Young People’s Services for the Trust, Colm McCafferty says: “Early intervention through services like i-CAMHS are essential in preventing greater challenges for children and their families in later life. With recent figures showing that 88% of infants who received i-CAMHS support did not require any further child and adolescent mental health services, the team have made a significant positive influence on the lives of many families”.
If you have concerns about your child’s mental health or wellbeing, talk to your GP, Midwife, Health Visitor, Social Worker or other health professional who can refer you to i-CAMHS for specialist help.