Northamptonshire Parent Infant Partnership described as 'rare jewel' in mental health system

The UK Government has committed to providing specialist mental health support for all children aged from 0-25 in the next decade.
The UK Government has committed to providing specialist mental health support for all children aged from 0-25 in the next decade.

Today, in Parliament, at the start of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, Parent Infant Partnership UK has launched a report about specialised parent-infant relationship services around the UK.

The full report was launched in Parliament today with Minister Jackie Doyle-Price and MPs Tim Loughton MP (Con), and Paul Williams MP (Lab), which called for specialised parent-infant relationship teams available to support all families who need them by 2030.

The UK Government has committed to providing specialist mental health support for ALL children aged from 0-25 in the next decade.

In Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire Parent Infant Partnership (NorPIP) is working as one of the few teams of its kind in the UK and supports families where babies’ emotional well being and mental health is most at risk.

In the report - commissioned by Sally Hogg of Parent Infant Partnership UK - she described the partnerships as a 'rare jewel'.

NorPIP was established in 2011 to provide specialist therapeutic services in Northamptonshire for parents and primary carers and their babies up to the age of two years.

The service encourages parents to form a secure attachment to their baby where they are having difficulties, where circumstances indicate there may be difficulties due to environmental factors, or where they have experienced problems with previous births.

A new report, published today in Parliament, has found that there are only 27 specialised parent-infant relationship teams in the whole of the UK meaning most babies live in an area where there is no support.

The report contains the most up-to-date analysis of provision across the four nations of the UK and calls for nationwide provision of these services in the next decade.

Dr Karen Bateson, head of clinical strategy and development at Parent Infant Partnership UK, said: “It is now widely recognised that what happens in the first 1001 days of a child’s life, from conception to age two, is key to enabling that child to thrive. During this period of rapid brain growth, babies are shaped by their environment, particularly their relationship with their parents.

"Healthy brain development depends upon babies having secure, responsive relationships with their parents or caregivers.

"Evidence shows us that if babies do not have healthy relationships with their parents, this can cast long shadows – resulting in risks to their emotional well being, academic achievement, and in the worst case scenarios physical and mental ill-health throughout their lives."

Most babies in the UK live in an area where there is no specialised parent-infant team and very little mental health provision at all for children aged two and under.

Despite CAMHS nominally being a service for 0-18-year olds, data collected through Freedom of Information requests suggested that in 42 per cent of Clinical Commissioning Group areas in England CAMHS services will not accept referrals for children aged two and under.

And even in some areas that stated that they worked with younger children, no children under two were accessing the service.

Today’s report describes how services for children under two are not only incredibly important but also require practitioners to have specialist skills in how to work with babies and their families.