The mental health of young children is crucial to their later success in school and relationships. Preschool children with persistent behavioral problems—like aggression, opposition, defiance and bullying—are more likely to have more severe behavioral problems, poorer academic performance and trouble with the law in later years, unless intervention occurs.
Unfortunately, what seems to be the trend is that preschool children with persistent behavioral problems are being expelled by the very programs that are supposed to be helping to prepare them for the school system. A 2005 study found that preschool children are expelled at three times the rate of children in kindergarten through 12th grade.
But, a 2007 follow-up study found that Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation decreased the number of expulsions of preschool children by half. This study concluded that providing Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation to early childhood programs helps improve childhood behaviors by helping teachers to prevent and manage behavioral problems.
What is It?
In Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, or ECMHC, a mental health professional who is trained in the mental health needs of infants, toddlers and preschoolers collaborates together with early childhood programs, teaching staff, and parents to improve their ability to prevent and manage mental health related problems that may occur for the children in their care.
What Does It Look Like?
ECMHC can take on many forms to address the mental health needs of the children in the care of a particular program. Generally speaking, the consultant provides training, education and support to the staff that provide direct care to the children so that the staff learn how to prevent mental health difficulties from developing and intervene appropriately when mental health difficulties have already developed.
At Encompass Mental Health, ECMHC can take on a variety of formats, including:
- Staff training opportunities that address the specific mental health needs of the early childhood population
- Classroom observations to evaluate the mental health climate of the classroom and teacher and offer suggestions for improvements
- Classroom observations to evaluate the mental health needs of a particular child or children who are having behavioral difficulties in a classroom and offer suggestions for intervention
- On-site individual and/or family therapy sessions for enrolled children and their parents
- Off-site individual and/or family therapy sessions for enrolled children and their parents
- Crisis intervention to assist the child care staff in managing an immediate behavioral concern
- Ongoing support, coaching and consultation as needed
How Can I Get a Consultant for My Child Care Program?
If you are interested in learning more about how ECMHC might help your child care program, contact me to get started developing a unique ECMHC plan that fits your child care program’s needs.