Social Emotional Health
Social-emotional health is foundational to academic achievement, lifelong health and success. It is formed through infants’ and toddlers’ strong, supportive relationships with their parents or caregivers and the experience of a safe, nurturing environment. One of the most important hallmarks of healthy social-emotional development is a child’s ability to regulate his or her own emotions. Yet routinely we wait until a problem is recognized to intervene – and sometimes we fail to intervene at all. Docs for Tots recommends rethinking our approach to early childhood social-emotional health and family mental health.
One in five children and adolescents may have a mental health problem. As many of 6 million young people may have a serious emotional disturbance. Yet an estimated two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not getting the help they need, in part due to a shortage of quality early childhood mental health service. Without treatment or prevention of infant and toddler mental health issues, children are at risk of learning and development problems, school failure, and lifelong struggles.
The mental health of a child’s family members matters to young children’s social emotional health. Undetected and untreated mental health problems in families and caregivers have negative effects on the social emotional well-being of children. Maternal depression affects an estimated 13% of postpartum women and directly impacts a woman’s ability to nurture her infant or toddler and impacts the overall quality of family life. There is growing evidence that mental health of fathers and other care-givers is as important to young children’s well-being.
In order to maximize every opportunity to build social-emotional health in all of our interactions with our youngest children,
Docs for Tots:
- Provides resources, tools, technical assistance and training to ensure that social-emotional health is addressed by doctors and in all early childhood settings
- Highlights the impact of toxic stress and opportunities to mitigate stress
- Advocates for practices, policies and investments that promote early childhood social-emotional health
- Highlights the cross-generational approach that is necessary to promote social-emotional health (addressing the mental health of both the parent/caregiver and child)
- Identifies prenatal opportunities to address social-emotional health
- Creates public awareness about the science of brain development and social-emotional health