The NCIOM Charts Course to Address Young Children’s Mental Health Needs, Create Solid Foundation for Success

John Thorp, MD, served as co-chair to this task force.

The NCIOM Charts Course to Address Young Children’s Mental Health Needs, Create Solid Foundation for Success
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Dr. John Thorp

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) has released new recommendations for state policies to strengthen the social-emotional and mental health foundation for the state’s young children. Research shows that early experiences, from age 0 to 5, have a strong influence on a child’s developing brain, providing a time of great opportunity and vulnerability.

Young children’s social-emotional well-being, or mental health, affects how they relate to and interact with others, how they learn and how well they are able to manage their emotions. Children need developmentally appropriate relationships, environments and experiences during their earliest years to develop a foundation strong enough to support more advanced physical, cognitive, and social-emotional skills.

Recommendations include:

  • Creating a coordinated, integrated system to meet the social-emotional and mental health needs of young children and their families
  • Promoting awareness and understanding of the importance of young children’s social-emotional and mental health
  • Improving treatment to meet the social-emotional and mental health needs of young children and their families
  • Developing the professions that work most closely with young children, especially early educators and health care practitioners

"The mental and emotional health of pregnant women and new mothers is crucial for normal bonding. Failure to bond has lifelong consequences for the child and family." said Dr. Thorp.  He continues that "small societal investments in improving the health and well being of pregnant and postpartum women can break intergenerational cycles of poverty, illiteracy, chronic health problems and substance abuse."

Programs such as UNC Horizons Program, UNC Hospitals Beacon Child and Family Program and the Center for Women's Mood Disorders puts UNC at the cutting edge of patient care, discovery and learning along these lines.

For more information, visit www.nciom.org or for the full report visit www.nciom.org/publications/?early-childhood.

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