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Infant Mental Health A Local and International Priority

Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 16/06/16

As a leader in the area of infant mental health, Tweddle Board Member Nicole Milburn has a lot to keep up with. Dr Milburn, an experienced Clinical Psychologist working in the field of child trauma recently returned from two International infant mental health conferences.

The 15th World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health in Prague had the theme;  Infant Mental Health in a rapidly changing world: Conflict, adversity, and resilience.

The 2nd International Neurosequential Model Symposium (NMS) in Canada explored ‘Advances in Implementation and Innovation in Practice, Program Development and Policy'.  

These topics are very relevant to Tweddle. The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) may not mean a lot to the families that come to Tweddle but they will experience specific therapeutic interventions including educational guidance that match the needs and strengths of the family.

Dr Milburn, who has been on Tweddle’s Board for over five years, is a tireless advocate of investing in the program development, research and policies that raise awareness of infant mental health.

Tweddle clinicians know that genes, attachment and exposure to toxic stress shape the architecture of the developing brain. Early experiences lay the foundations of sound mental health. Disruptions to this development process can impair a child’s capacities for learning and relating to others with lifelong implications.

Genes however are not destiny and prevention and early intervention can help children overcome early adversity. It’s crucial though that Policy makers understand the critical time frame when supporting  a child’s first 1000 days and invest accordingly.

Mental Health specialists, health professionals, policy makers and academics the world over are working together to raise awareness of the critical early years and their impact on future generations.  

Campbell Paul, Chair of the NMS Symposium Scientific Program Committee, Consultant Infant and Child Psychiatrist at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Honorary Principal Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne shared his thoughts with Infant Mental Health delegates.

“ The newborn baby enters our world with only a small amount of information about what is ahead. The baby has gleaned something about the immediate environment when in utero, but we know that the experiences and health of her parents are going to have a major impact on her evolving sense of self. The broader world all around will have had a major impact upon her parents, her siblings, her grandparents and others who surround her. Their experiences form the scaffold upon which the new baby’s persona develops”

Dr Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., and Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy presented at the International NMS Symposium.  Over the last thirty years, Dr. Perry has been an active teacher, clinician and researcher in children’s mental health and neurosciences. He famously said “The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love”

Tweddle CEO Ms Jacquie O’Brien spoke about the importance of acquiring the latest global knowledge around infant mental health which is then actioned in an everyday practical capacity across all Tweddle programs.

“While at Tweddle parents learn about what a baby needs from their relationships and the importance of tuning into their child. Activities and enrichment programs at Tweddle include music, reading, play and understanding cues. These day to day actions let a baby or toddler know that they are loved and safe. When relationships are reliably responsive and supportive, they can actually buffer young children from the adverse effects of stressors. While at Tweddle, clinicians work on addressing the stressors on the family therefore reducing the stressors affecting the children”

Tweddle Infant Mental Health



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