Investigators: Amy Finlay-Jones, Helen Milroy, Jenny Downs, Sally Brinkman
Project team members: Wendy Simpson, Jetro Ang, Elissa Strumpher
Collaborators: Rhonda Marriott, Jeneva Ohan
This research aims to co-design the components of a practical and equitable public health approach to promoting mental health in toddlers and young children in Western Australia (WA). Consultation with families and community service providers has highlighted the need for very early support programs that can promote mental health and prevent mental illness in later life. Our approach focuses on supporting parents and caregivers to nurture their child’s self-regulation. Self-regulation is one of the fundamental building blocks of positive mental health in children and promoting self-regulation in early life can help to prevent childhood mental illness. We have previously conducted a review of early self-regulation programs to identify which components of these programs are most effective overall. Identifying these components is critical for developing targeted programs that reduce burden on families and the health system. We have also looked at which components are most effective for families with different backgrounds and needs. Ensuring that families receive strategies matched to their specific needs is fundamental to increasing engagement and creating a program that allows all children and families to benefit.
Our aim is to use this evidence synthesis as a starting point for developing a personalised self-regulation approach where families are matched with program components that are matched to their goals, needs and preferences. In this project, we will build on our evidence synthesis by working with families to co-design the way that the program components are delivered. We will first work with families to understand the program objectives that are most important with them. Second, we will run focus groups and yarning circles to understand families’ perspectives on “what works” for promoting early self-regulation and mental health. Following this, we will work alongside families and service providers to co-design key elements of the program, so that they are developed in accordance with family needs and preferences. Partnering with key stakeholders, including Ngala, Child and Adolescent Health Services – Community Health, and the YMCA across the course of the project will help to ensure that all project learnings are used to guide improvements in infant and early childhood mental health practice and policy in WA.
Healthway WA Exploratory Research Grant
Medical Research Future Fund
Head, Early Neurodevelopment & Mental Health; Healthway WA Senior Research Fellow+61 8 6319 1808 Email me LinkedIn