Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

California’s commitment to healthy families requires a robust investment in infant and early childhood mental health.

Infants and young children can—and do—suffer from mental and behavioral health challenges. The need for intervention and services is often overlooked, and it can be difficult for providers to identify and address concerns because infants and toddlers handle emotional experiences and traumatic events differently from adults and older children. It is especially critical to address trauma, mental, and behavioral health concerns in early childhood when 90% of a child’s brain development occurs before age 5.

IECMH services range from promotion to prevention, to developmentally appropriate assessment and diagnosis, treatment and maintenance. IECMH interventions rely on a two-generational approach, helping caregivers to provide a nurturing relationship that promotes children’s social-emotional growth. Services occur with families in the home or in community settings, and include facilitated playgroups, parenting support classes, or IECMH consultation, among others.