Understanding Early Childhood Mental Health: A Practical Guide for Professionals

Volume Editors: Susan Janko Summers Ph.D., Rachel Chazan-Cohen Ph.D.; Foreword Author: Hiram E. Fitzgerald Ph.D.

Format: Paperback, 296 pages, 7.0 x 10.0
ISBN: 9781598570755
Price: $44.95

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Integrating infant mental health services into early education programs leads to better child outcomes and stronger parentchild relationships—the big question is how to do it appropriately and effectively. Clear answers are in this accessible textbook, created to prepare early childhood professionals and programs to weave best practices in mental health into their everyday work.

Ideal for preservice university courses, in-service professional development, and program administrators, this introductory text combines the authoritative guidance of more than a dozen respected mental health and early childhood experts. Professionals will get a primer on infant mental health, strengthening their knowledge of key issues such as screening and assessment, attachment, emotional dysregulation and aggression, risk and resilience, maternal depression, and children's exposure to trauma. Then they'll get practical, research-based guidance they can use to

  • recognize indicators of mental health problems in very young children, including emotional dysregulation and behavioral and developmental changes
  • promote parents' and caregivers' mental health through direct and indirect supports, including regular mental health screening, community partnerships with mental health providers, and parent education
  • build on child and family strengths and mitigate risk factors such as poverty and violence
  • strengthen parentchild relationships and interactions through play and effective caregiving routines
  • maintain their own mental health, building positive relationships with co-workers and reducing the effects of compassion fatigue and secondary stress
  • participate in reflective supervision to sharpen their ability to think critically and solve problems
  • conduct sound program evaluation that includes the input of families, staff, and the surrounding culture and community
  • work effectively with outside mental health consultants when child and family needs extend beyond the program's scope

With this highly readable introduction to key mental health principles, the next generation of early childhood professionals will fully understand the latest research and best practice—so they can support optimal caregiver-child relationships, enhance professional collaboration, and strengthen child development.


Review: The Midwest Book Review, Psychology Shelf

"When the mind is forming and learning, it is the most vulnerable. Understanding Early Childhood Mental Health is a guide for pediatricians and other health workers on understanding the mind of an infant and toddler and understanding the indicators of early mental health issues in children, as well as issues that parents face, fatigue, and much more. An important topic that isn't spoke often, Understanding Early Childhood Mental Health is a choice and recommended pick for health and psychology collections."

Review by: Dorothy Richardson, Director, UMass Boston Infant Parent Mental Health Program

"Provides a solid grounding for educators and mental health practitioners alike in the science of infant mental health and the necessity of relationship-based interventions."

Review by: Jane Hochman, Self-Employed Consultant, Policy and Planning in Early intervention and Infant Mental Health, Princeton, NJ; co-editor, Mental Health in Early Intervention

"Extremely well organized . . . The book keeps its promise to be a practical guide for practitioners and suggests actual strategies to put into practice. It also addresses issues related to supervision, program evaluation, and the larger organizational questions."

Review by: James Garbarino, Professor of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago

"A major step toward closing the gap between aspirations and realizations in promoting and protecting the mental health of our youngest children by helping the people who care for them develop the tools they need to offer a psychologically safer world from birth and beyond."

Table of Contents

About the Editors
About the Contributors
Foreword: Hiram E. Fitzgerald

Partnerships and Pragmatics: Editor's Introduction
Susan Janko Summers

I: Understanding Infant Mental Health: Development and Relationships
Susan Janko Summers

  1. Understanding Infant Mental Health
    Deborah Roderick & Rachel Chazan-Cohen
  2. The Challenging Child: Emotional Dysregulation and Aggression
    Neena M. Malik
  3. Maternal Depression
    Linda S. Beeber & Rachel Chazan-Cohen
  4. Finding Family Strengths in the Midst of Adversity: Using Risk and Resilience Models to Promote Mental Health
    Colleen I. Monahan, Linda S. Beeber, & Brenda Jones Harden
  5. Exposure to Direct and Indirect Trauma
    Meryl Yoches, Susan Janko Summers, Linda S. Beeber, Brenda Jones Harden, & Neena M. Malik
  6. Assessing Young Children's Social and Emotional Development
    Jane Squires
  7. Assessing Primary Caregiver Relationships
    Neil W. Boris & Timothy F. Page

II: Supporting Infant Mental Health: Intervention Strategies and Organizational Supports
Susan Janko Summers

  1. Promoting Infant Mental Health in Early Childhood Programs: Intervening with Parent-Child Dyads
    Brenda Jones Harden & Melissa Duchene
  2. Intervening with Parents
    Linda S. Beeber & Regina Canuso
  3. Infant Mental Health Consultation in Early Childhood Classrooms
    Sherryl Scott Heller, Allison B. Boothe, Angela Walter Keyes, & Neena M. Malik
  4. Reflective Supervision
    Sherryl Scott Heller
  5. Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Staff
    Nicole Denmark & Brenda Jones Harden
  6. Organizational Readiness
    Jamell White & Brenda Jones Harden
  7. Evaluating Infant Mental Health Programs
    Susan Janko Summers


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