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Early Childhood Mental Health

Early Childhood Mental Health Matters

Meeting the mental health needs of young children is critical.

  • Healthy social and emotional development is key to success in school and in life
  • Research shows that the remarkable development in the first five years of life brings great opportunities and great vulnerabilities for a child’s mental health
  • Young children who manifest early relationship problems are much more likely to have difficulties with peers and adults as they mature, often setting a string of negative consequences into motion
  • Intervening early can have a profound, positive impact on a child’s social and emotional well-being and prevent unnecessary long-term struggles
  • States and communities are recognizing that early childhood is truly a golden time and are ready to build systems that promote healthy social and emotional development for young children and their families

Early Childhood Mental Health Efforts of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD)

The Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development (GUCCHD) is a national leader in early childhood systems building, providing training and technical assistance to states and communities, and conducting research and evaluation to bring best practices in early childhood mental health to the field. GUCCHD embraces a comprehensive approach to early childhood systems—one that promotes a continuum of supports and services for young children and their families spanning from promotion to prevention to intervention. GUCCHD’s Early Childhood Team strives to advance this comprehensive, systems-level approach in all its efforts. Key areas of focus include:

  • Early Childhood Systems Development and Implementation
    • Developing an organizational framework for addressing early childhood mental health systemically
    • Translating this framework into a user- friendly diagram to assist states and communities in moving forward with system reform efforts
    • Providing training and technical assistance to states and communities individually and/or as part of a national initiative
    • Developing materials to support systems development, such as an online early childhood systems-building toolkit reflecting lessons learned and strategies from communities engaged in this work
  • Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
    • Conducting research and evaluation to build the evidence base for this model and identify core competencies for mental health consultants
    • Spearheading efforts to establish core principles and components of effective consultation
    • Developing practical materials for use in the field by mental health consultants, families, child care providers and administrators
    • Creating online training modules to build workforce capacity (www.ecmhc.org)
    • Exploring adaptation to the consultation model to meet the needs of specific populations (e.g., child welfare)
  • Promotion, Prevention, and Intervention
    • GUCCHD works to identify, evaluate, raise awareness, and facilitate implementation of best practices that promote positive mental health, prevent mental health challenges, and address mental health problems

Contact Information

For further information or additional questions, please contact:
Neal Horen, Ph.D.
Deputy Director Early Childhood Policy and Clinical Psychologist
National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health
Center for Child and Human Development, Georgetown University
horenn@georgetown.edu