NSPCC highlights paucity of infant mental health services

Charity calls for more support for babies and young children in care to prevent mental health problems in later life

The NSPCC has published a report that highlights the importance of mental health services but argues they are ‘virtually non-existent’ for infants. 

Its Case for Change report, published today, says more needs to be done to support babies and young children, particularly those in care. 

Children in care in England, Scotland and Wales are four times more likely than their peers to experience mental health problems and behavioural issues in later life. 

The report argues that young children’s mental health is not routinely assessed and most mental health care provision does not start until the age of five.

The charity calls for: 

Interventions that focus on developing attachment between the child and their caregiver

Creating consistent teams of multidisciplinary professionals, which include health and social care expertise

Offering treatments tailored to the needs of each case

The report states: ‘Care planning involving multiple agencies, and including social workers and healthcare professionals, is needed to give infants in care a better chance at a stable, nurturing home from their first placement.’

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: ‘The wider system has vastly under-estimated the importance of looking after infant mental health. 

‘Acting early can bring significant benefits to future life outcomes. Yet public money is mostly spent on "late intervention", rather than preventing problems occurring in the first place.  

‘It is time to rethink the way we work together across agencies to better identify and address the mental health and wellbeing needs of infants and young children.’

The report has been launched to coincide with the UK's first infant mental health awareness week, which begins today.

Further information:

NSPCC Case for Change report