We view early childhood mental health consultation (ECMHC) as an essential strategy to improve the mental health of young children, their families and staff in Head Start programs across the country.
To be effective, ECMHC should:
- Foster the social-emotional development of all young children in the program;
- Target specific factors that place young children at risk for developing behavior problems;
- Build the capacity of staff and families to implement evidence-based interventions to reduce challenging behavior;
- Promote adoption of program-wide strategies, such as the Pyramid Model, that integrate evidence-based promotion, prevention and intervention approaches to young children's social-emotional development; and
- Incorporate research-based approaches to addressing staff and family well-being as essential ingredients in young children's healthy social and emotional development.
Improving the mental health component of Head Start requires leadership and a strong vision by the program director and collaboration between the mental health consultant, staff and families. We have developed products to address each of these critical partners.