Join the conversation – What is infant and child mental health and why is it important for all practitioners to think about it?

Join the conversation – What is infant and child mental health and why is it important for all practitioners to think about it?

9 October 2018
A family in the park

This webinar examined Emerging Minds’ work, focusing on how practitioners and services can develop consistent and engaging child-focused practice.

A full recording of the webinar and related resources, including slides, audio and a transcript, is now available.

The full recording of the webinar is also available on our YouTube Channel.

If the social and emotional wellbeing of children is to be everyone’s business, then consistent, cross-sector practices need to be employed in adult- and child-focused services.

In this webinar, Brad Morgan, Emerging Minds’ Director, and Helen Francis, Emerging Minds’ National to Local Manager, described how Emerging Minds works across sectors to identify effective practice, and to support practice development that improves the early identification and prevention of child mental health issues. They explained the suite of resources that Emerging Minds produces, and how these can help practitioners and organisations to develop child-focused and parent-sensitive practice.

Jaisen Mahne, Emerging Minds’ child and family practitioner, discussed his experience of service delivery, examples where practitioners have provided child-focused service provision, and examples where opportunities were missed. 

Further reading and resources

This webinar was co-produced by CFCA and Emerging Minds. They are working together as part of the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program.

Emerging Minds logo


Hi, I enjoyed the webinar, and I was wondering what contacts and referrals are available in Mackay Qld.
Vicki Newman
We would encourage you to visit your local government service directory for a list of services that operate in your area. You can search for services at the following link:
Emerging Minds
where can service providers get support and training in trauma informed care and being able to source natural supports and such for families?
There are several e-learning courses currently available on including Trauma and the Child. These courses explore the fundamentals of service provision and a set of practice principles to apply to practice with children who have experienced trauma. Emerging Minds also includes a team specifically focussed on the impact of trauma and adverse childhood experiences, this includes the impact of natural disasters and other traumatic events. Please keep an eye-out on our website and our e-newsletter (subscribe here:, over the coming months we will be releasing further content to support service providers working in this area.
Emerging Minds
How to provide good infant MH services within a 0-18 year service where the adolescent crises soak up most of the service's resources?
Emerging Minds works with practitioners through a prevention and early intervention lens which engages with parents at the earliest possible opportunity, where they are experiencing adversity. It is our belief that this can help to identify children who are at risk of mental health difficulties before they enter adolescence. As per the webinar, we acknowledge that this is a significant challenge for busy services. It is our role to work proactively with adult-focused services to make visible the social and emotional wellbeing of children through parent-sensitive and child-aware practice.
Emerging Minds
I am a Speech Pathologist within the Special Developmental School and we have great struggles in engaging services to work with our students. There is a big issue in our area around services working with children with disability. Is there a way we can highlight the need for these services to support our children? Is there EBP around this area?
One of the key roles of Emerging Minds is to work with government to identify and resolve service gaps in the prevention and early identification of risks for children's social and emotional wellbeing. It is widely acknowledged that service sectors are challenged to provide holistic service delivery for children and families experiencing disabilities. Through our needs analysis processes, Emerging Minds are keen to continue to hear from professionals regarding their needs in the provision of services where disability affects children and families.
Emerging Minds
For allied health professionals, where can we find professional development to help us identify anxiety and mental health in children. Does the panel know any that they can suggest to us now?
A key message from Emerging Minds is the importance of understanding children's ecological circumstances, relationships, experiences of trauma and developmental stage. These aspects of a child's life are key in identifying and preventing potential risk factors for mental health issues. There are a number of e-learning courses on including Child Mental Health and Trauma and the Child. These courses are developed to stimulate discussion within teams and organisations regarding work with children who are at risk of mental health issues such as anxiety. Our workforce consultants are also available to further discuss these courses and can be contacted via 08 8367 0888 or
Emerging Minds
What tools and resources does Emerging Minds have available to workplaces and in what methods can we access these?
Emerging Minds has a suite of e-learning training and written resources that can be accessed through our website on Emerging Minds also has a network of state-based workforce consultants who work with organisations to improve child-focused practice with the view to preventing mental health issues for children from zero to twelve. Helen Francis, who presented on the webinar, manages this team and can be contacted on 08 8367 0888 or
Emerging Minds
Are parents being intoduced to service delivery while pregnant and open to supporting the emotional wellbeing of themselves and their children in the early postpartum period?
Universal antenatel and postnatal services are provided in all states to new mothers. There is increasing recognition that this early engagement with new parents provides opportunities to discuss any concerns which may effect them or newborn children. The challenge for many parents who face disadvantage and adversity is maintaining these supportive connections as their children grow, so that early intervention is accessible where issues continue or exacerbate.
Emerging Minds
Are there any interventions for the kids who are doing the bullying themselves? I feel that we need services to link them into that look at why they are bullying in the first place. What's happening in their life/family?
CFCA has a number of various resources on bullying, these include resources for both parents of children who bully, and for practitioners working with families who have a child that bullies. The resources are Children who bully at school (, Working with families whose child is a bully (, Helping your child stop bullying: A guide for parents (, and Does your child bully others? Ten positive actions for parents (
Nick - CFCA
The idea about collaboration is fantastic. Does the funding extend to increasing workforce staffing to provide this more holistic service?
The Emerging Minds National Workforce Centre is not funded to increase staffing in other services. Alternatively, it is funded to provide: - an online workforce gateway for members of diverse workforce groups to access resources such as practice guides, training, webinars, tools and apps - a national network of regionally-based Child Mental Health Workforce Consultants to assist organisations to implement workforce development strategies that strengthen support for infant and child mental health and - a diffusion of evidence into practice via a strategic communications plan and knowledge translation strategy. This work is underpinned by a robust evaluation strategy to measure the impact of our project and assess what areas are going well and where improvements may be required.
Emerging Minds
After identifying mental health concerns and making a reccomendation to seek mental health services, I am often told that local psychologists (and psychiatrists) have closed books. When they are available, there is often a significant waiting period (months), during which time the situation can worsen. Do you think this is a state/national issue, and how do you see this issue being alleviated?
In the needs assessments conducted by Emerging Minds, many practitioners have told us that referral options are often limited because of the realities of busy services. This has meant that some service providers now work with cases involving issues that do not fit within their specific specialisation. We believe that this is a state and national issue. Emerging Minds works in two specific ways to assist in the alleviation of these issues. Firstly, we work with professionals who report to increased complexity of presenting issues in children and families, to help improve their confidence, skill and knowledge in providing preventative and early intervention practices for children and parents. Secondly, we work across all service sectors to support practice which identifies risk factors for children earlier, and we are hopeful that this will lead to less acute issues for children and adolescents in the long-term.
Emerging Minds
How do you see the role of volunteers from Volunteer Home Visiting services like Home-Start, where volunteers can spend time with each family every week, and be an informal support sometimes for year.
We believe that volunteers play a significant and important role in providing support to children and families in Australia. Emerging Minds recognises this importance, and value the contribution of child and family partners in our own organisation.
Emerging Minds
Do you think there is a service gap for children who come from a culturally and linguistically diverse background?
Yes, from our needs assessments with practitioners and conversations with families there is a service gap for children from CALD backgrounds. We are working hard at Emerging Minds to develop materials to support service providers to develop child-focused and culturally aware practice in this area. There is much scope fro development in this area in mainstream services.
Emerging Minds
Good work and great information. Thank you
Fadia vicky

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