National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

The Cultural Context of Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Early childhood mental health consultation is a relationship-based, collaborative process to address a specific developmental, behavioral, or mental health concern and build capacity that engages all partners – families, staff, consultant - in the context of an ECE setting or other organization where the child is being served (Cohen & Kaufmann, 2005). Because young children's emotional well–being is tied so closely to the emotional status of their parents and non-family caregivers, the emotional and behavioral needs of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are best met through coordinated services that focus on their full environment of relationships (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2008). Everyone engaged in the collaborative process of ECMHC brings their cultural perspective and capacity to communicate with one another to the consultation process. Like a three-legged stool, mental health consultation works best when all three parties – families, providers, and consultants – are equal partners with a shared purpose and coordinated effort. This nature of ECMHC offers a rich environment for learning from each party's culturally influenced perspective – deepening relationships, gaining mutual understanding, and working together on behalf of the young child and family. It also offers the opportunity for potential cultural differences, discontinuity, and conflict.




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Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation