Today’s podcast discusses an area of mental health that has gained increasing levels of attention over the past decade: mental health diagnoses and treatment of very young children aged birth to five.
Conversations about mental health and very young children are often met with skepticism. As Drs Osofsky and Lieberman write, there is a “pervasive, but mistaken, impression that young children do not develop mental health problems and are immune to the effects of early adversity and trauma because they are inherently resilient and grow out of behavioral problems and emotional difficulties”. Drs Tronick and Beeghly go further, explaining that the false assumption is that infants and toddlers can’t have mental health problems because they “lack mental life”. In reality, we know this isn’t true.
According to Drs. Stygar and Zadroga of the Mayo Clinic, “many mental health concerns have roots traceable to challenges occurring in infancy and early childhood, and early interventions for these developing minds are necessary to prevent future mental health disorders.” Briefs from the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child explain, “our genes contain certain instructions that tell our bodies how to work, but the environment leaves a signature on the genes that authorizes or prevents those instructions from being carried out – or even speeds up or slows down genetic activity. Thus, the interaction between genetic predispositions and sustained, stress-inducing experiences early in life can lay an unstable foundation for mental health that endures well into adult years”.
In this episode Patricia speaks with Guidance Center clinicians, Megan Bunting & Safiya Tormo, who specialize in the assessment and treatment of young children aged birth to five. Megan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at The Guidance Center’s Long Beach Outpatient Clinic and Safiya is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist treating children at the Guidance Center’s Educare collaboration – an early education Head Start program.
In My Backyard is brought to you by The Guidance Center, a children’s mental health agency in Long Beach, CA. In My Backyard is produced by Tricia Costales and Matthew Murray. Thank you to Jay Vincent B for original music. All other music licensed through SoundStripe. Thank you to our listeners and supporters.
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