One of the great opportunities in my role is to speak to and with different sector, government and community groups. Last week I had the privilege to be part of a panel discussing mental health reform. The audience was asking curly Q&A questions stretching our thinking and driving a conversation filled with innovation. At one point we were asked what was the one thing we would request in an audience with the Minister which would change the game in mental health.
Great question! How would you answer this?
My fellow panelists had truly great answers. One focused on integration across jurisdictions to prevent fragmentation and duplication and to drive coherence across the continuum of care. Agree ☑. One talked about introducing a national procurement plan for affordable, accessible, suitable housing to end the situation that complicates so many people’s lives and drives despair and disconnection. Agree ☑
But my “one thing”?
Investing in supporting the development of strong and secure early baby-adult attachments is in my view the single most effective way to lay the ground work for a lifetime of mental health and well-being. The evidence and research is clear and unambiguous, and it seems others see this as a priority as well.
More than 300,000 babies are born in Australia each year and giving them the best possible start in life is an important part of building mentally healthy communities of the future. Infant Mental Health Awareness Week Monday 13th June - Sunday 19th June provides an opportunity to draw attention to the fundamental importance of babies’ mental health as well as some to the issues that affect it. Understanding infant mental health starts with seeing the world from a baby’s perspective and the ways they learn to think, feel and experience emotions.
The theme this year is ”Understanding Early Trauma”.
The Parent-Infant Foundation, UK, indicates that “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”.
Understanding the impact of trauma on very little ones, helps us understand how important secure relationships are.
Investing in supporting young families and early relationships is at the heart of prevention in mental health.
Dr Leanne Beagley
CEO, Mental Health Australia