Early relationships and the early years of development (prenatal and the first three years) are critical determinants of a child’s capacity for resilience, learning, health and wellbeing throughout life. The mental health and wellbeing of infants and children is closely connected to stages of growth and development—cognition, emotional regulation, language, play and social relationships (Centre for Community Child Health 2012).

Implications for practice

  • Parenting competence is an important concept in recovery processes. Research indicates that the routine addition of parenting support has the potential to greatly enhance recovery-focused practice (Reupert & Maybery 2010).
  • Siblings, extended family members and kin of all ages can contribute to the child’s recovery process.

Implications for service delivery

  • Recovery-oriented approaches with infants and children draw on perspectives of growth, health and wellbeing related to development, resilience and family systems.
  • Recovery-oriented practice and service delivery with infants and children occur in collaboration and partnership with a wide range of services6.
  • Support programs for children, siblings and parents in families experiencing mental health issues, while assisting recovery, also offer important prevention and early intervention strategies for enhancing the wellbeing of individuals and families.

Resources

Underlying principles for the right of children and young people to be nurtured by their parents and family are outlined under Principle 5 of the Charter on the rights of children and young people in healthcare services in Australia (Children's Healthcare Australasia 2010).

... parenting functioning is intimately related to the recovery process and functioning in other major life domains ... Nicholson (2010) found that children often give parents the strength and will to ‘keep going’ thereby promoting hope (a key element of recovery). Additionally, ‘being a parent’ and effectively assuming the parenting role, provides parents with meaning and purpose (another element of recovery). Parenting may also contribute positively to parents’ lives in the community by providing opportunities for meaningful interactions and activities with others. Thus, identifying and supporting an individual’s parenting role can provide hope, a sense of agency, self-determination and meaning, all consistent with a recovery approach.
Reupert & Maybery (2010)

Footnotes

6 General practitioners, prenatal and perinatal, women's health, paediatricians, community child and infant health nurses, speech therapists, early parenting and family support, men's health, support and mentoring programs, drug and alcohol services, housing, disability services, migrant resource centres, employment services, neighbourhood centres, recreational, sporting and fitness clubs, cultural associations and groups, playgroups, preschools and day care centres, schools and relevant government-based services.