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Social & Emotional Health
Doctors – Social-Emotional Health
Social-emotional health is foundational to lifelong health, success and academic achievement. The Commonwealth Fund’s survey of parents with young children revealed that parents are anxious for more information about common social-emotional issues. Many parents were dissatisfied by their pediatrician’s attention to developmental and behavioral concerns. Docs for Tots recommends rethinking our approach to early childhood social-emotional health and to maternal and other caregiver mental health.
One in five children and adolescents may have a mental health problem. As many as 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 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.
As a doctor, you are uniquely poised to:
- Promote the social and emotional health of your patients
- Address maternal and caregiver depression and mental health
- Promote positive parenting
- Create linkages to community resources that address early childhood mental health
- Screen for social-emotional health for children and caregivers and make necessary referrals
- Implement innovative best practices such as co-location of a behavioral/mental health professional in your practice
- Advocate for best practices, policies and investments that promote early childhood social-emotional health