Infant and early childhood mental health: the case for action

CR238, October 2023

The first five years of life are crucial to a child’s development and to protecting them from future mental health conditions. With half of mental health conditions established by age 14, there is overwhelming evidence for providing support to parents and young children as early as possible. This means there is an important opportunity for the treatment and prevention of mental health conditions and the promotion of mental wellbeing and resilience.

Unfortunately, most young children and their parents do not receive the support they need, resulting in suffering across the population that is preventable, with negative impacts that last throughout a person’s lifetime.

In this landmark College report, we’re calling on governments to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of young children by rolling out new comprehensive services in every neighbourhood and region to under 5s and their parents, so they get the support they need. Developed in consultation with parents and more than a dozen charities and other organisations, this report identifies evidence-based interventions that can be provided and makes nine recommendations to bridge the current treatment gap, as well as providing a blueprint on how to deliver a future where fewer young people develop mental health conditions.

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