Healthy Minds

Emotional Growth

Early Childhood Mental Health

Early childhood mental health can’t be separated out from cognitive development, language development and social competence.

Jack Shonkoff, M.D., Director, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

Infant and early childhood mental health refers to how well a child develops socially and emotionally. Understanding infant mental health is the key to preventing and treating the mental health problems of very young children and their families. It also helps guide the development of healthy social and emotional behaviors.

What are early childhood mental health challenges?

Early childhood mental health challenges are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day. Symptoms of early childhood mental health challenges often start in early childhood, although some challenges may develop during the teenage years. The diagnosis is often made in the preschool years and sometimes earlier.

Can early childhood mental health be treated?

Most potential mental health problems will not become mental health problems if we respond to them early.”

Jack Shonkoff, M.D., Director, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

It’s never too late, but earlier is better!

Early childhood mental health can be treated and managed. There are many treatment options based on the best and most current medical evidenced practice. Therefore, parents should take advantage of all the resources available to guide the child towards success.

Early diagnosis and appropriate services for children can make a huge difference in the lives of children.