CEO Update: Infancy and early childhood a critical time for mental health

Infancy and early childhood a critical time for mental health 

One of our challenges as a mental health ecosystem is to balance our understanding and advocacy for the specific mental health issues faced by people across their lifespan.

From birth and infancy, to the latter years of life, the mental health and wellbeing needs of our community is an ever changing continuum with different areas of focus, attention and advocacy required along the way.

Raising awareness of the particular issues young people face has been a great example of advocacy from those whose focus is on that group, including many of our Members who are at the forefront of this work not just in Australia but globally.

Similarly the focus on the mental health risks for older people has been a theme in suicide prevention, and is always part of the discussion when we consider the impact of loneliness and an individual’s capacity to access health and mental health care. Especially during this current pandemic where researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have found that ‘a large part of the answer to loneliness lies in feeling connected to a community.’

This week however, the focus turns to babies as we highlight Infant Mental Health Awareness Week.

It’s an important time to raise awareness and advocate for many, including myself after several years of clinical practice in this area and then more recently as the Deputy Chair of Tweddle Child and Family Centre in Melbourne.  

There is an ongoing need for us all to recognise that infancy and early childhood is a critical time for the development of emotional, physical and mental health.

For a long time the mental health needs of babies was nested in the issues faced by their parents, and the services primarily targeted the parents and families, not necessarily the child. This is of course appropriate but it risks overlooking the particular needs of the baby themselves. This is why we are being challenged this week to consider the world through the eyes of the baby:

  • What babies are seeing now?
  • How is the current world affecting babies and their relationships and wellbeing?
  • How is the current world affecting babies’ mental health?
  • How does our perspective change in the way we design and deliver services when we approach them through the eyes of a baby?

That’s what our friends and Mental Health Australia Members at Emerging Minds,  Kookaburra Kids, PANDA, and the Gidget Foundation have been doing for years: developing mental health policy, services, interventions, training, programs and resources in response to the needs of professionals, infants, children and their families.

At Emerging Minds one of their clear areas of focus is to promote to all practitioners why early identification and prevention of children’s mental health issues needs to be everyone’s business.

Similarly the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Ltd (AAIMH) has a mission to ‘help give infants, young children and their families the best possible start in the important, early years of life by improving professional and community understanding that infancy is a critical time for the development of emotional, physical, cognitive, social and mental health’.

So from those lovely little people aged just zero and up, to those ageing heroes lucky enough to make it to 100 or more, our role is to ensure our advocacy efforts cover every generation, and the entire mental health ecosystem.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

It’s time for real action against racism

This week we were happy to join with the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and many more, as a co-signatory on a letter to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to work together to tackle racism. 

The mental health impacts of racism are well known, and at Mental Health Australia we have a responsibility to promote justice, inclusion and respect - as the realisation of these rights are fundamental to the mental health and wellbeing of our community. 

We will continue to work with FECCA and others over the coming weeks to advocate for further action against racism and continue the call for a bipartisan commitment to an anti-racism strategy.

You can see the full letter below.

Congratulations to Order of Australia recipients from our mental health sector

Congratulations to the Order of Australia recipients whose work in our mental health sector was recognised and acknowledged as part of the Queen’s Birthday honours at the weekend. As key members of our mental health ecosystem we congratulate you all for this well-deserved recognition. 

Officer (AO) in the General Division

Mr Ryan Kerry Stokes: For distinguished service to business, particularly in the media, mining and construction sectors, to cultural institutions, and to mental health and sporting groups.

Member (AM) in the General Division

Mr Michael John Burge OAM: For significant service to community mental health, to advocacy, and to education.

Mr John Alan Hall: For significant service to community mental health, and to business.

The Honourable Justice Shane Raymond Marshall: For significant service to the law, and to the judiciary, to industrial relations, and to mental health.

Dr Lyndall Joan White: For significant service to medicine, to psychiatry, and to perinatal and infant mental health.

Medal (OAM) in the General Division

Ms Jennifer Ann Coleman: For service to community mental health.

Mr Michael John Hawke: For service to community mental health

Dr Jaelea Skehan: For service to community mental health and wellbeing.

Read more


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources. 

Watch this space for updates on further workshops and webinars for 2020.

Embrace CALD Consumers and Carers join “Look after your mental health, Australia” campaign

Some members of our CALD Mental Health Consumer and Carer Group have been sharing mental health advice as part of the Mental Health Australia Look after your mental health, Australia campaign, encouraging all Australians to prioritise mental health at this time. Watch below for Jennie’s tips, and check out our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels for more!


Mental Health News

Peer workers to boost NSW COVID-19 mental health response via ‘warm line’

People with lived experience of mental health issues and recovery are being engaged to provide critical front-line support to others with mental health issues during the COVID-19 crisis. The Mental Health Commission of NSW and the NSW Government are providing $800,000 to set up a warm line which will enable people who may be experiencing distress to connect quickly with peer workers, who have travelled their own journey of mental health recovery and can provide hope for others.

Read more

Money stress - 3 new posters launched today

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, the national Indigenous wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body, today launched three money stress, wellbeing and mental health support posters for Indigenous Australians for staying healthy and strong during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Supporting Community Connection has launched

Today MHCC launches learning materials and resources to help people support their clients, colleagues, neighbours, family and friends living with mental health challenges in their communities.

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Indigenous leaders: Focus on mental health to close imprisonment gap

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia welcomed today’s reports of Australian governments adopting Indigenous incarceration Closing the Gap targets. Noting that Indigenous Australians are almost ten times proportionally overrepresented in prison.

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COVID-19 magnifies existing inequality for LGBTIQ+ people in Australia

Equality Australia’s submission to the COVID-19 Senate Inquiry highlights the ways LGBTIQ+ people in Australia have been left behind in our COVID-19 response. 

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Virtual connections can combat loneliness

Positive virtual contact with neighbours is a key antidote to feeling lonely, according to new research. Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) say that even just one meaningful interaction, virtual or face-to-face, can have lasting mental health benefits. 

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$11.5 million in mental health grants to support emergency services workers affected by bushfires

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud said the Australian Government is investing $11.5 million in mental health services to support emergency services workers and their families impacted by the unprecedented bushfire disaster of 2019-20.

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On Monday, Melanie Cantwell - Deputy CEO, Harry Lovelock - Director of Policy and Projects and I will be meeting via videoconference with a number of the psychosocial community based services (Neami, Mind, Aftercare, Wellways, Open Door, New Horizons, Open Minds & Flourish) to discuss the community mental health sector.

Also on Monday, Harry Lovelock and I will be meeting with Gerry Naughtin, CEONDIA via videoconference to discuss the NDIA Mental Health Working Group meeting recovery framework and the new recovery coach item.

On Tuesday I will be at the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority.

On Wednesday, I will be participating in Meeting 3 of the National Disability and Carers Alliance via videoconference.

On Thursday, I will be participating in the MHWA CEO Steering Committee Meeting via videoconference.

Friday sees me participating the next National Mental Health Workforce Strategy Taskforce meeting also via videoconference. 


Member Profiles

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) is the peak body representing the community mental health sector in Queensland. We support our members and the wider mental health community in meeting the needs of people who have lived experience with mental health issues.
QAMH is committed to supporting our community as they deliver quality mental health services in Queensland. Our work is underpinned by the valued support of our members, who play a key role in assisting us to address structural challenges and to drive positive change.
Website Facebook…
Twitter LinkedIn…

BEING is the independent, state-wide peak organisation for people with a lived experience of mental illness (consumers) in NSW. They work with consumers to achieve and support systemic change. BEING acts as a bridge between mental health consumers and the government. An essential part of their role is to encourage mental health consumers to provide input into decision making at all levels concerning the way mental health services are provided. They gather information and lobby the decision makers about issues relevant to the mental health system. They seek to influence legislation and policy introduced by the government where it affects the lives of mental health consumers. BEING also keeps people informed of what is happening in the state through their Network.
Website: Facebook: 



Gidget Foundation: Free Antenatal Video

Gidget Foundation Australia’s Antenatal Video is a free resource available to all expectant and new parents nationally. The video offers evidence-based, trusted information from mental health clinicians, an obstetric specialist and parents with lived experience of perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA).

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2020 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium Presenter Submission Extended

Due to overwhelming response, the submission deadline for the 2020 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium has been extended to Friday 19 June. Share your case studies, research findings and experiences in the 2020 program by applying to present. 

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Help is Here domestic violence campaign

Domestic violence in our community is unacceptable. Everyone has the right to be free from harm and to live without fear of violence or abuse. All victims need compassionate and highly responsive support. The Help is Here campaign provides information on support services available to anyone affected by domestic and family violence, to help them access the support they need, when they need it.

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Participants required for an online study to improve prevention of adverse childhood experiences

Researchers from the University of Melbourne are conducting an online Delphi expert consensus study to improve our understanding of the prevention of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

You may be eligible to contribute to participate in this study if you: are 18 years or older, and have at least of 5 years’ experience as a health practitioner, educator, policy maker, researcher, or program manager related to family or child health and well-being in Australia. 

The study involves completing three rounds of online surveys to rate a set of intervention programs for adverse childhood experiences. To participate in this study, please follow this link to the participant information statement and anonymous online questionnaire.

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Watch the latest Heads Up With Adam Hills and Madisen Ward for #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia

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