Last reviewed 10 June 2022

This year’s Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, running from 13–19 June 2022, will focus on the theme “Understanding Early Trauma”.

The annual event, organised by the Parent-Infant Foundation, will look at the nature and impact of trauma experienced by babies, the buffering impact healthy relationships can provide, as well as the importance of having skilled professionals working to improve babies’ mental health.

To coincide with Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, the Parent-Infant Foundation will also be launching a new report on understanding early trauma and the importance of early relationships which includes research with early years professionals and teachers.

The charity highlights that experiencing trauma, such as exposure to domestic abuse in the earliest years, can have a significant impact on brain development, potentially leaving serious and lasting consequences that can create difficulties for the child into their adult years. However, secure relationships with parents and carers can reduce the stress caused by trauma and limit the long-term impact it has on a baby’s development, particularly with the help of specialist support.

The Foundation is now calling for specialised parent-infant relationship teams across the UK alongside a cross-government approach to give all babies the best start in life.

Sally Hogg, deputy CEO for the Parent-Infant Foundation, said:

“Four-fifths of teachers and early years workers disagree or strongly disagree that the UK Government is doing enough to protect children from trauma. Change is not only needed, but overdue. Some children who experience early trauma can struggle with learning, act out at school, and experience mental health problems, impacting them and their classmates. Tackling early trauma ensures that children start school ready to learn and thrive.

“Strengthening early relationships and addressing early trauma would reduce the pressure on our schools, mental health services and child protection services. We can transform children's lives if specialised parent-infant relationship teams are in place to provide skilled early support to the parents and babies whom most need it.”