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Keeping promises


A new government. A fresh start? A chance to re-focus?

I’m hoping not so much for a new focus as for a renewed and stronger focus on relationships, on the relationships that David Cameron talked about when he launched the Relationships Alliance manifesto last year with a vision for a future ‘in which strong and stable couple, family and social relationships are the basis of a thriving society’. I am sure the Prime Minister has much to think about at present, but once the dust settles, I would urge him to focus, as he has said he wants to do, on what really matters in terms of making the UK a great place to live.

 

Whatever resources in terms of time, money, talented and highly trained professionals, we put into securing relationships from the very earliest days of a new baby’s life, WILL pay off, both in the short-term and the longer. Those resources will certainly make a difference to the financial health of the nation, but more importantly, to the emotional, social, cognitive and physical health of our citizens. It’s a question of human happiness as well as of the ‘bottom line’.

Maternal mental health figured occasionally in the run-up to the election – so it’s already on the radar and now it must stay there. As I have said many times, I want to see a universal service for new parents that is dedicated to helping them ENJOY new parenthood through understanding their babies’ and young children’s emotional and social development, but I also want to see a targeted service that identifies women at risk of perinatal mental distress and recognises that stepping in early will not only increase the sum total of the woman’s happiness, but will have a lasting effect on her baby’s.

I’d ask Mr. Cameron to consider whether he might encourage all health visiting teams to employ a Specialist Health Visitor in Infant Mental Health to work with mothers and babies where the baby’s wellbeing is threatened by the mother’s difficulties in forming the profound relationship with him or her that the baby needs. And, of course, that the mother and her family need too.

I attended an event a couple of years ago when Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP, lent her support to the formation of PIP Northants, that is to a new branch of the charity, Parent Infant Partnership UK, that aims to make psychotherapeutic support available to all families who are struggling to form a secure relationship with their baby. Andrea has been re-elected to her Northamptonshire South constituency, so I am hoping for her ongoing support for infant mental health services.

Looking forward to a relationships-focused new government……

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