On September 19th, the Northern Region Learning Community launched Part 1 of a 4-Part Series on Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH), featuring Barbara Ivins, Clinical Director/Program Manager Early Intervention Services at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Over 90 participants joined around the region at the Hub in Redding, at remote sites in Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Siskiyou counties or online. The series is a partnership between ECMH Consortium UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Strategies 2.0. Part 1 focused on ECMH Core Principles and Practices. The Zero to Three Infant Mental Health Task Force defines Early Childhood Mental Health as, “the capacity of children from birth to age five to experience, regulate and express emotions, form close and secure relationships, and explore the environment and learn. The importance of thoughts, feelings and expectations one develops about “self” as well as toward “others” was added as an enhancement to the definition. The theme of, “how we are with others is as important as what we do,” was woven throughout the presentation. This theme encompassed principles such as: assess rather than assume; ask, rather than act or tell; acknowledge rather than accept; use of one’s relationship rather than one’s self to shift interaction; and “holding hope.” Other key points addressed indicators of emotion/social well-being; parallel process; two-generation approaches; promotion, prevention and intervention comprising the care continuum; relational contributors to development; and that all behavior has meaning. The presentation was interspersed with time for networking, discussion, observations and reflections.

Observation and reflections included points from the presentation that would be valuable to share with colleagues, such as: the difference between empathy and sympathy; the difference between doing with and doing for; the lens of expectation; provider/parent dynamic; always keeping the child in mind; and taking our expectations out of the situation. As a result of the presentation, organizations expressed opportunities for collaboration, capacity building, empowering, educating, disseminating information to parents, broadening awareness across the region, working across disciplines and exploring common language and approaches, as well as considering the new recommendations coming from the State around ACEs screening in healthcare. The presentation concluded with reflection on words or phrases for possible consideration within a regional ECMH vision as follows: cultural humility, family empowerment, empathy, compassion, safe, encouragement, enriching, diverse, instilling hope, reaching out, empowered caregiving, trust-based, non-judgmental, parents are experts, support, building-blocks, trauma-responsive, and resilience.

Session 2: Thinking Developmentally About Risk and Protective Factors. Nov 7, 1:00 – 4:00

Hub: Eureka – Remote Locations: Lake, Mendocino, Shasta, Siskiyou, Online. Please join us!


Susan Jen

Author Susan Jen

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