Draft National Guidelines for Including Mental Health and Wellbeing in Early Childhood Checks

4 June 2024

Category: Submissions

The National Mental Health Commission has developed a set of draft national Guidelines for including mental health and wellbeing in Early Childhood Health Checks (ECHC) for children aged 0-5 years. QAMH support the Guidelines as mental health concerns often begin during childhood and the earlier a recovery focused intervention is introduced the better.

In this submission we endorse the trauma-informed and early-intervention frameworks along with the emphasis on building trusting relationships between practitioner, parent/carer and child. We highlight the following points:

  • ECHC provide an opportunity for maternal/carer mental health to be considered too as the mental health of a parent/carer will impact the child in their care;
  • The Guidelines assume that appropriate foundational service provision will be available if a mental health challenge is identified, yet we know there are significant gaps in both metropolitan, rural, and remote locations for these services;
  • The Guidelines should provide greater recognition of the support that the community mental health and wellbeing sector are able to provide;
  • Improve the layout of the document to distinguish the Guidelines from the rest of the document;
  • Acknowledge current work that builds on the ‘thrive by five with culture alive” legacy;
  • Appropriate training and skills-based learning for practitioners be developed to support implementation of the Guidelines;
  • Specific guidelines for hard-to-reach communities are further developed to recognise the unique challenges these setting work in; and
  • Stronger focus on proactive engagement for those experiencing mental health challenges.

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