women mental healthThe All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Conception to Age 2 into perinatal mental health and child maltreatment which suggests that the cost of failing to deal with these issues is £23billion.

The report, The First 1001 Days, is the result of an inquiry conducted by the APPG and also found that poor parental-child attachment can be passed down from one generation to the next, "creating a vicious cycle and damaging environment in which to grow up".

Commenting on the findings, Dr Cheryll Adams, Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said: “As an early coalition partner to the APPG, we believe this is a seminal piece of work which, if widely supported by all those with the power to implement its findings, could make a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of our society, in particular to the future life trajectories of the very young, the yet to be born and to future generations!

“The next step must be to increase national investment into this critical period of all our lives. Health visitors will welcome the report, as it endorses many of their existing primary preventative services, but recognises the need to strengthen them. Commissioned by the Department of Health, we have been delivering perinatal mental health training for health visitors – and since 2013, over 500 perinatal mental health champions have been trained. In addition, the report’s focus on good parent-baby attunement is another area where the iHV is currently rolling out training to all health visitors.”

Launched last week [25 Feb] at the Speaker’s House in Parliament, the report is the culmination of months of inquiry sessions which took evidence from a committee panels of experts and Parliamentarians to investigate the various factors that affect the emotional and social development of children from conception to age 2.

No less a priority than defence of the realm
Tim Loughton MP, former Children’s Minister and Chairman of the APPG for Conception to Age 2, has been overseeing the inquiry.

He said: “As our report shows perinatal mental health and child maltreatment are closely linked and, more importantly, largely avoidable. That is the equivalent of more than two thirds of the annual Defence Budget going on a problem that is widespread and, when unchecked, passes from one poorly parented generation to the next. Tackling it should be no less a priority for our politicians and our health and social care professionals than defence of the realm.”

The over-arching inquiry pulls together previous research in the area to offer two main conclusions:
- In order to deliver socially and emotionally capable children at age 2, local policies need to be based on a commitment to primary prevention. The evidence presented in the Inquiry strongly indicates that identification of need should take place before the child is harmed, not after. Therefore, inspection should look closely at primary prevention measures which would deliver this result.
- Without intervention, there will be in the future, as there has been in the past, high transmission of disadvantage, inequality, dysfunction and child maltreatment from one generation to the next and subsequent generations, and the economic value of breaking these cycles will be enormous.

In addition, the report offers nine recommendations which it says are practical, achievable but, above all, the minimum essential if society is to tackle these issues.

To read the report in full visit www.1001criticaldays.co.uk