An early childhood mental health consultant is a professional with expertise in mental health who is also equipped with knowledge and expertise related to working around young children (possibly in the age group of zero to five years of age) and their families. Certain early childhood mental health consultants, referred to as infant mental health specialists, are experts in the field of mental health who have received specialized training in working with children who are just weeks old up to 3 years of age and their families. Early childhood mental health professionals who work with infants, preschoolers and toddlers almost have the same job to do.
Promoting healthy growth in young children’s emotional and social development and supporting the parents and caregivers in the child’s life to understand, recognize and support their emotional and social development. An early childhood mental health consultant should have a good idea about the social and emotional milestones achievable by the child at that age and support strategies so that they are competent and confident enough in modelling and coaching others to use similar positive practices. Early childhood mental health consultants must be able to identify and work in close relation with families and caregivers to understand and solve problems as they arise. Early childhood mental health professionals can also help families, teachers and caregivers nurture the growth of each child by understanding and characterizing the development of the child and what is typical for children at those specific age groups or ages. They are also responsible for alleviating the fears and doubts of worried, concerned parents that certain behaviours of certain children are a normal part of thor growth and they need not worry too much.
On the other hand, early childhood mental health consultants should be able to identify, recognize and respond to any potential concerns related to the social and emotional development and growth of a child in a strictly sensitive and mature manner. When mental health issues or other similar problems arise, early childhood mental health consultants can be a great help for both the children and the families. Early childhood mental health consultation can facilitate support and planning because young children are at a greater risk of experiencing social and emotional stress and related concerns in partnership with the family or caregivers of the child. However, this does not mean that family or caregivers are the only reason behind the mental distress of a child. Suppose a child starts showing concerning behaviour or has been continuing to show no improvement in counselling or any other forms of treatment. In that case, it is the responsibility of the mental health professional to refer the child and their parents or caregivers to additional outside services such as community mental health or Part C services.