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New program aims to raise awareness of early childhood mental health

Can a baby be depressed? Can a toddler have a mental illness? Are pre-schoolers being expelled from day care for aggressive, unmanageable behavior?

The answer to all these questions is “yes,” and experts say a lack of understanding about the social and emotional development and psychological well-being of babies and young children is at the root of many vexing long-term problems, from school failure to serious mental health issues.

“When we talk about infant mental health, we’re not putting babies on the psychologist’s couch or diagnosing a two year old with schizophrenia,” Therese Ahlers, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health (WI-AIMH), says.

Instead, Ahlers explains, the burgeoning field of infant and early childhood mental health focuses on the importance of promoting social and emotional health from the earliest possible age. It also teaches how to identify the behavioral warning signs in babies or young children who can’t talk about their psychological distress or mental or emotional pain, and recommend the help they, and their caregivers, need.

via Baby steps: New program aims to raise awareness of early childhood mental health.

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