Infant mental health practice refers to the promotion of optimal development and well-being in infants (prenatal to age 3) and their families, the prevention of difficulties, and intervention when infants are at-risk or have identified problems. The goal of infant mental health services is to ensure optimal child outcomes in terms of a sense of security and self-esteem, and the ability to form satisfying relationships, to engage with the world, to learn, to cope and problem solve, and to continue positive development throughout life. Infant mental health services strive to promote stable and supportive families and communities.

Infant Mental Health Promotion has developed a series of documents and practice guidelines relevant for program managers, child care and front-line service providers, and organizational staff to support high quality services in the field of infant and young child mental health.  These guidelines are applicable to a wide range of services and disciplines where infants and families are concerned,  and we encourage you to incorporate these practice guidelines into staff training and policy.

Best Practices Guidelines

IMHP has developed this document outlining the knowledge and skills needed by infant mental health practitioners from a broad range of disciplines in order to provide competent care specific to each infant and family.​
IMHP has published a document which provides a framework for the different types of interventions needed by young children and their families. This Document was developed by an Ad Hoc Committee - Tom Bowman, Joanne Cummings, Sarah Landy, Margaret Leslie, Loretta Rowan & Rhona Wolpert as a follow up to IMHP's Core Competencies, 2002 and Organizational Practices re Supporting Practitioners, 2004.
Organizations have a responsibility to ensure that practitioners are able to provide ongoing competent support and intervention to young children and their families. This means preventing or alleviating vicarious trauma in the workplace. Such a responsibility involves creating policies and practices that ensure appropriate training and support for their staff. Infant Mental Health Promotion has developed these guidelines for practitioners who work with young families in various disciplines and settings (e.g., hospitals, public health, child welfare, childcare, children's mental health, and family resource centres).
This position paper addresses the issue of vicarious trauma when providing intervention for high-risk families and the supports needed to prevent or alleviate negative effects on individual practitioners and the service delivery system. The paper defines high risk and reviews literature on the features of high-risk families that create risks for young children living in them. It also summarizes the characteristics of effective interventions and the challenges of providing services to high-risk families. Finally, the paper makes recommendations for policies and practices needed to support practitioner effectiveness and staff retention.