i-CAMHS, is an important part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. The i in i-CAMHS represents infants, whose emotional and mental health needs also need to be considered by any CAMHS service. i-CAMHS offers direct support to infants 0-3 years and their parents or carers. The project also works together with other health professionals and organisations.
Research tells us that the first three years of a child’s life are the most important, as the brain develops very quickly during this time. How the brain develops depends on the quality of communication and interaction between the infant and their parents or main care giver. The environment which the baby lives in is also very important. A baby forms an attachment, or bond, to their parent or carer as they respond to the baby’s needs. Increasingly we know that this bonding is very important and that an infant’s early experiences will influence their mental well being throughout their life. In modern life lots of different things can get in the way of bonding in early childhood. If support is offered at the earliest possible opportunity, this can help parents and carers develop a strong relationship with their baby.
Lots of people may be able to support you in developing a relationship with your baby. You may be fortunate to have family members who can support you in this. Other professionals such as your midwife or health visitor may also be able to help with difficulties you encounter. However, if you remain concerned about bonding, or are worried about your infant’s mental health or wellbeing, talk to your Health Visitor, Social Worker, GP or other health professional who can refer you to i-CAMHS for specialist help.
i-CAMHS provides consultation (advice) to other professionals involved in caring for a baby. An important part of this project is forming a link between i-CAMHS and other services in the Southern Trust.
The Infant Mental Health Practitioner sees parents for individual clinical work which is focused on supporting the development of the baby/parent relationship. Working on this relationship will benefit an infant’s emotional health, and long-term wellbeing. We also hope that this work will help to improve parental emotional well-being.
The i-CAMHS practitioner is also involved in some parent group work, through the Mellow Parenting Programmes.
i-CAMHS – accept referrals from any professionals involved in the care of children under 3 years. Referrals must be made in hard copy using the iCAMHS referral form, sent to the referral coordination team at the address below: Clinical Referral Coordinators CAMHS Bocombra Lodge, 2 Old Lurgan Road, Portadown, BT63 5SG Telephone: 028 383 92112 (09:00-13:00 & 13:45-17:00) Email: CAMHS.Teams@southerntrust.hscni.net