Early Childhood Mental Health

What is Early Childhood Mental Health?

“Infant mental health is the developing capacity of the child from birth to age three to:

  • Experience, regulate, and express emotions
  • Form close and secure interpersonal relationships
  • Explore the environment and learn – all in the context of family, community, and cultural expectations for young children.

Infant mental health is synonymous with healthy social and emotional development.”
(ZERO TO THREE Infant Mental Health Task Force, December, 2001)

When should I worry about a young child’s mental health?

A young child’s behavior should be explored further if it:

  • Is something that the child does not typically do; or causes parents or other caregivers to consider the child “difficult”
  • Prevents a child from playing with peers or having positive interactions with adults
  • Is not a one-time event or with a particular person but happens often for extended periods of time with different people and in different settings.

What services are available to early learning programs?

On-site support that may include working with a practitioner to:

  • Observe a young child in the classroom
  • Identify strengths/needs and develop an individual plan that addresses the child’s social emotional development
  • Communicate concerns to parents
  • Provide a family with referral information for a child who needs specialized services.

How can I access services?

Call to discuss your concerns with the early childhood mental health consultants who will help you to determine next steps. Services are available at no charge to early learning programs. Contact Ivy Reynolds at ireynolds@cscinc.org or at 800-529-7222, extension 2328.

Leah Tressler
Mary Jo Mastriani
Schelly Engelman