Choosing a focus for infant mental health in the GTA

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Choosing a focus for infant mental health in the GTA

In the GTA, the implementation team is working with a population that is entirely new for the Service Collaborative initiative. Fondly referred to as the “Baby Collaborative” within PSSP, this project is focused on the system of services that supports families, infants, and young children aged 0-3 living in Etobicoke. Together with experts in Infant Mental Health like Dr. Jean Clinton from McMaster University and Dr. Chaya Kulkarni from Infant Mental Health Promotion at Sick Kids Hospital, PSSP hosted discussions with 35 members from 19 sectors including:

  • primary care
  • Ontario early years centres
  • parenting and family literacy programs
  • child welfare
  • developmental disabilities
  • public health
  • community and hospital mental health and addictions
  • cultural-based and/or ethno, faith, language specific services

This innovative Service Collaborative aligns with the Mental Health and Addiction Leadership Advisory Council’s priority of prevention, promotion and early intervention. Why invest in ages 0-3? “We learned from Dr. Clinton that the brain is most deeply influenced by early relationships, and cost is high if we don’t intervene early,” explains Jill Shakespeare, Manager, GTA Regional Implementation Team. “Signs of mental health disorders are prevalent in this age group, but are often not flagged until entry into the school system.”

Using the information gathered in their capacity assessment, the 0-3 Collaborative narrowed down their focus to lack of service pathways and common referral processes for infants and families. The next step is for Service Collaborative members to look at the evidence and further define what the group wishes to focus on within the system gap. From there, they will begin visioning what a potential intervention could look like.


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