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Ahead of Infant Mental Health Week (7 – 13th July 2021), a local branch of a national charity is highlighting the importance of including infants when it comes to children and young people’s mental health.

Earlier this year, Action for Children Eilean Siar begun their new service supporting parents and their babies. The service helps improve the mental and emotional health of those involved in these vital days, months, and years of a child’s life.

Called ‘Blueprints’, the service is funded by Inspiring Scotland. Support is offered to parents as they reach the 20-week milestone of pregnancy and lasts until the child reaches three.

They also have a Facebook page for the service:  https://www.facebook.com/actionforchildreneileansiarblueprints/  

In the 2018/19 Programme for Government, a commitment was made by the Scottish Government to improve mental health services for children, young people, and adults. This included perinatal and infant mental health support.  Mental ill health in the perinatal period of parenthood can include a range of conditions, such as depression and anxiety. These can affect people of all ages and backgrounds for example up to 20% of mothers and up to 10% of fathers are negatively affected at this crucial stage of life.

Fiona Steel, Lead Operational Director Children’s Services Scotland at Action for Children, said: “We are very pleased to be launching this project in the Western Isles.

“There is often a ‘baby blind spot’ in many of the discussions surrounding children and young people’s mental health. We want to shine a light on this issue. We are hoping this new service will therefore encourage the local community to talk and think about how babies and infants mental health needs are met.

“Our expectation is that when parents are supported, they feel better and in turn become more confident to meet the needs of their child.  This then enables parents to build and maintain a warm and secure relationship with their child. It really does present a firm foundation and plan for which parents and children can develop to reach their potential.

“At Blueprints, we aim to develop a community of volunteers who will complement the support given to families during these vital 1001 days. Volunteers will be formed from a rich tapestry of the community. From other parents who recently understand what a mum or dad might be going through, to those with skills and experience in working with babies and toddlers. And indeed, from those who have had past experience in parenting and now find themselves with spare time which they want to spend in a meaningfully way.   Our Family Support Volunteers will be specifically matched to befriend a parent and baby to assist them with both practical and emotional support on a weekly basis.

“If parents need support or advice, we encourage them to get in touch with our Blueprints project.”

If you would like some more information on Blueprints, who we are, what we do and how we can support you please don’t hesitate to ask your midwife, or Health visitor.

If you feel like you would enjoy supporting a family through those precious years or have any questions about how to support the programme please contact Blueprints children and families practitioner Kathryn Macleod (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or tel:01851705080)

“The theme for Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is including infants in children and young people’s mental health.

The goal of this year’s IMHAW theme is to encourage everyone working in children and young people’s mental health policies, strategies and services to think about and include babies. "Children and young people’s mental health should refer to the mental health of all children from 0-18 and beyond, but too often it is focussed on older children. There is a “baby blindspot”. We are encouraging everyone to think and talk about infant, children and young people’s mental health, and to consider how babies’ mental health needs can be met."

Parent infant foundation  https://parentinfantfoundation.org.uk/our-work/imhaw/