Birth to Three Early Mental Health Program

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 Who do we help?

Little girl with toys

We are the first pediatric program in Minnesota to serve children from birth to age three with high risk histories of toxic stress and we also provide consultations for children up to early school age with high risk histories of toxic stress during the first years of life. These early stressors include: multiple hospitalizations; chronic illness; stressful transitions; high-risk to safety and well-being; and/or parents who are struggling with stress themselves.

These children have experienced stressors such as, but not limited to:

  • Multiple hospitalizations;
  • Chronic illness;
  • Stressful transitions;
  • High-risk to safety and well-being;
  • Parents who are struggling with stress themselves.

A history of toxic stress is often associated with a negative effect on overall development and with an increase in behavioral difficulties such as:

  • Emotional issues, including fear and anxiety;
  • Aggressiveness and impulsivity;
  • Problems with sleep regulation and eating patterns;
  • Developmental concerns in language or socialization.

Why are our services important?

The first three years of life are a sensitive period in a child’s growth and development. In this period, children are particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of toxic stress on both their physical and mental well-being. Early identification of vulnerable children and timely intervention are critical because during the first years a child’s brain is also uniquely adaptable and capable of developing new brain connections that can help lessen the impact of negative or stressful experiences.

How do we help

How do we help

How do we help?

Our program seeks to intervene in children either at risk for or currently experiencing toxic stress to reverse the deleterious effects and prevent further negative consequences. We support the caregiver by helping them to become an effective buffer to protect the child from stress. We also support parents’ learning of how to read and respond to their child’s signals to foster a more supportive environment for the child to experience and cope with the stressors in their lives.

The relationship between the parent and child during the first three years of life lays the foundation for the child’s lifelong emotional and behavioral well-being. Using the most effective interventions for this age group, we seek to build up and support the relationship between parent and child and promote the child’s neurodevelopment, particularly for children who are at risk.

Our clinical specialists:

  • Evaluate mental health and assess social-emotional development.
  • Develop an individual tailored, comprehensive plan to meet a child’s needs.
  • Coordinate with experts in speech therapy, occupational therapy and other medical specialists.
  • Help parents understand their child’s emotional needs and provide them with techniques for building and promoting security and regulation within their relationships with their child.
  • When necessary, we provide referrals to mental health providers for additional evaluation.

Research

Research

Currently the ECMHCP is developing their research agenda in early childhood mental health assessment and intervention.  Check here in the coming months for news and opportunities for research participants.

Training

Training

The Birth to Three Program trains pediatric residents, students in social work, and international professionals. The Birth to Three Program has also hosted medical students from Maastricht University in the Netherlands for their 18-month clinical research internship.

Partner Programs

The Birth to Three Program is proud to partner with the Early Childhood Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry in the creation of the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Center (I/ECMHC).