Special training is to be provided to Leeds social workers and foster carers to cut down the chances of babies developing mental health issues later in life.
Experts from Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust’s Infant Mental Health Service are to run the scheme, which has been created as research shows early childhood experiences and especially the relationships with those giving care to babies are vital to shape their brains.
Sue Ranger, clinical psychologist at the service, said: “Secure attachment relationships have a positive effect on babies’ emotional and social wellbeing and development.
“Where there are concerns in the attachment relationship, early intervention is known to prevent the development of mental health problems in later life.
“We are working with a range of health professionals to help them feel equipped to spot when the attachment relationship isn’t quite as it should be and provide them with the tools to resolve any problems there may be.”
The training, which looks at how the relationship with a parent and their child can influence the youngsters’ future development, is also to be rolled out more widely.
All health workers who look after babies are encouraged to be knowledgeable about infant mental health.
Ms Ranger said the Leeds initiative supported the use of long-term preventative measures to reduce mental health problems, which is going on nationwide.
The trust’s Infant Mental Health Service works with families from during pregnancy until babies are two years old, offering targeted support that may include psychotherapy, specialist therapeutic activities and psycho-education.
Since the service was created in 2012, the team has trained over 700 health professionals across the city, including health visitors and midwives.