Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is a growing field that focuses on helping children build positive attachments that support healthy social-emotional development. These relationships are the foundation of mental health and start with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Relationships are not limited to family. For over 60% of children under 5, childcare providers are a primary caregiver. Unfortunately, young children are being expelled from childcare and preschools at triple the rate of grades K-12. (Gilliam, 2005) This sets into motion a cascade of negative experiences. Research shows that mental health consultation provided for early care educators can reduce this expulsion rate by 50%.
At Chestnut, we support children of all ages with mental health needs. Our early childhood mental health consultants work with childcare providers to support young children and their families with understanding and teaching healthy social-emotional skills. Sometimes a shift in perspective is necessary to understand that problem behaviors are a result of an emotional issue. The program is not about a diagnosis, treatment plan, or therapy, but rather supporting providers and families with developing and maintaining healthy relationships so a child can grow with that sense of security.
Dramatic changes are often an indicator of a child’s need for extra support. If you notice the child used to be quiet, but he now is screaming and angry or she used to be easy going and is now rigid, clingy, and inflexible, a consultation may be helpful. Our consultants have extensive training in child development as well as mental health and can help know what typical for a 2 year old versus a 4 year old.
If you are interested in speaking with a Chestnut Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, call us at 888.924.3786. For Madison and St. Clair Counties and for the Metro East area, call 618.877.4420.