Infant Mental Health for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Advocacy is an essential role for the PNP especially in infant mental health issues. Families (especially those in distress or with other limitations) may need help advocating for optimal early intervention services.  Pediatric practices may need to be encouraged to use evidence-based screening tools. Governments will need to be encouraged to invest in quality early childhood programs. 

Infant Mental Health Makes Economic Sense

Early recognition of social-emotional health issues in young children by PNPs makes strong conomic sense. Not even 50% of children with developmental delays are identified prior to school entry (Bauer et al., 2009). The belated diagnosis of developmental delay results in underutilization of early intervention services. (Only 2.3% of children with developmental delay receive early intervention services, while an estimated 10% of very young children have a developmental delay) (Bauer et al., 2009). Early identification of IMH concerns should mean earlier enrollment in potentially ameliorating services. Research suggests that for disadvantaged children each $1 devoted to well-done early childhood programs leads to “$7 to $9 in future savings” to investing localities and states (Pearson, 2009, p.1).

References and Resources:

Bauer, S., Smith, P., Chien, A., Berry, A., & Msall, M. (2009). Educating pediatric residents 
about developmental and social-emotional health. Infants & Young Children, 22, 309-320.

Foy, J., & Perrin, J. (2010). Enhancing pediatric mental health care: Strategies for preparing a community. Pediatrics, 125: S75-S86.

Gorski, P. (2011). Infant mental health: The science, context, and meaning of formative relationships. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 41: 210-213

Nelson, F. & Mann, T. (2011). Opportunities in public policy to support infant and early childhood mental health: The roof psychologists and policymakers. American Psychologist, 66: 129-139.

Pearson, K. (2009). A proven return on investment: Economists and the business community advance a birth to five policy agenda. Washington, DC: Zero to Three.

Returns on early childhood investment: