Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2022
Infant Mental Health Awareness Week will take place from the 13th – 19th June 2022 on the theme of ‘Understanding Early Trauma’.
What is Infant Mental Health Awareness Week?
Infant Mental Health Awareness Week is a chance to focus attention on the wellbeing, and social and emotional development of our babies and young children, and the importance of early relationships.
During the week there are local and national activities happening to increase understanding of infant mental health and to showcase the amazing services that work with babies and their families.
The Parent-Infant Foundation has set the theme and coordinated Infant Mental Health Awareness Week for 6 years, during which time it has grown into a global event.
Why Understanding Early Trauma?
In order to focus on the babies whose mental health and relationships are most at risk, this year’s IMHAW is focussing on #UnderstandingEarly Trauma.
Babies can experience psychological trauma when their environments are repeatedly harmful or threatening to them or to their parent or caregiver. Traumatic experiences might include physical and emotional abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic abuse or high levels of stress or conflict at home.
Trauma early in life is influential because the brain is particularly “plastic” and susceptible to influences in pregnancy and the earliest years. Because early development lays the foundations for what happens next, experiences at that stage can have potentially widespread and long-term consequences.
A significant predictor of how adversity will impact a child is the strength and security of their relationship with their parent. Without a nurturing relationship to support them, young children experience negative events as more traumatic. If the relationship between parents and a baby is abusive or neglectful, this can be more damaging than other forms of early trauma.
Understanding trauma helps us to understand why infant mental health and early relationships are so important.
This week we are launching three new resources relating to early trauma:
Our new podcast mini-series explores our IMHAW theme #UnderstandingEarlyTrauma from different perspectives. The first episode is out today featuring a discussion between Lucy Morton and Andrew on trauma informed practice in a Scottish context.
Our new infographic tells the story of how trauma can affect children, and how we can mitigate its impact.
Calendar of events
Many different organisations host events for Infant Mental Health Awareness Week.
We've put together this calendar of events to showcase all of them in one place. You can access the calendar here.
Our Comms pack is designed for organisations who want to help promote IMHAW. It provides a range of content for them to use and help them think about how they could become involved with IMHAW. You can download our comms pack here.
Previous Infant Mental Health Awareness Weeks
IMHAW 2021 provided an opportunity for everyone working in the sector to raise awareness of the importance of babies' social and emotional development, and to share work they are doing.
2021's theme was "Including Infants". The goal of IMHAW's 2021 theme was to encourage everyone working in children and young people’s mental health policies, strategies and services to think about and include babies. Children and young people’s mental health should refer to the mental health of all children from 0-18 and beyond, but too often it is focussed on older children. During IMHAW21 we encouraged everyone to think and talk about infant, children and young people’s mental health, and to consider how babies’ mental health needs can be met.
- Throughout the week we asked professionals in mental health to pledge to include infants when they talk about Children and Young People’s Mental Health. Over 100 professionals did so during the week with more following in the weeks after. If you would like to join the growing list of pledgers, there is still time to take the #IncludingInfants Pledge here.
- The Parent-Infant Foundation released a survey of Children and Young People's Mental Health professionals which found a “baby blindspot” in both workforce development and mental health services.
- The Foundation facilitated the All Party Parliamentary Group for Conception to Age Two meeting focused on IMHAW, "including infants" and the upcoming health and care bill. You can watch a recording of the event on our YouTube Channel.
- We released a new information film called ‘What is Infant Mental Health?’
- Our Head of Policy and Campaigns, Sally Hogg, spoke at a number of events about the findings of our survey and "baby blindspot" in policy and services across the UK. You can see a list of the events which took place during IMHAW here.
There was huge engagement in 2020's Infant Mental Health Awareness Week across the UK and around the world.
Face-to-face events could not take place because of the Coronavirus pandemic but IMHAW saw huge amounts of activity on facebook, instagram and twitter using the hashtags #IMHAW20 and #IMHAW2020. Analytics suggest that #IMHAW2020 was used in 7,400 twitter posts, reaching 14.2 million people!
During the week, the First 1001 Days Movement was re-launched with a new vision, mission and consensus statement. This was accompanied by an open letter to the Prime Minister about the importance of babies' emotional wellbeing and development.
We created a new infographic explaining what infant mental health is and why it matters, see here.
The Parent-Infant Foundation was very busy during the week!
- We created an Infant Mental Health Briefing document for Commissioners explaining infant mental health, the role of teams and the impact of Covid-19, see here.
- We pulled together a rich resource outlining Online Infant Mental training resources for professionals, see here.
- Sally Hogg contributed to various blogs including: ACAMH: “Where is the I in CAMHS?”, iHV: “IMH matters now more than ever”, NHS Confederation: “Where is the ‘I’ in Mental Health?”
- Karen Bateson contributed to the Mind Matters podcast, listen/watch here
Thank you to everyone who contributed and participated!