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Best Possible Start : Infant Mental Health & Workforce Development [Research Report for NHS Lanarkshire]

Dunlop, Aline-Wendy and Carwood-Edwards, Jean and Delafield-Butt, Jonathan and Ludke, Karen and Lux, Erin (2014) Best Possible Start : Infant Mental Health & Workforce Development [Research Report for NHS Lanarkshire]. [Report]

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The key aim of the work undertaken for NHS Lanarkshire’s BPS Universal Services was to inform a workforce development programme for Public Health Nurses, Neonatal Nurses and Midwives which prioritises positive promotion of parent-child attachment and seeks to uphold effective intervention strategies that promote positive infant mental health outcomes. Scottish early years policy across health, social care and education emphasises the shift in the balance from intervention to prevention in order to promote positive infant mental health. Infant mental health is seen primarily as relational with the mother-infant dyad at the centre. Understandings of the role of the practitioner are derived from policy, research and practice. To be effective in fostering infant mental health it is necessary to adopt an holistic view and to recognise the many influences upon the mother and child. An ecological model is used to show this connection and to inform the training framework. Interrogating systematic reviews of the infant mental health interventions literature showed the success of ‘model interventions’ and the challenges of implementation fidelity when interventions were scaled up. The reviews concluded that while effectiveness in the longer term is uncertain and more research is needed, the absence of conclusive evidence does not imply ineffectiveness. The importance of family and professional aspiration is emphasised.