A new project, Little Minds Matter: Bradford Infant Mental Health service launches next week, 12 June, in Infant Mental Health Awareness week, which helps strengthen the relationship between babies and their parents.

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week is between 10 and 16 June. This years’ national campaign is around the theme of ‘breaking the cycle’ and ‘the importance of attachment’.

The new project has been commissioned by National Lottery funded Better Start Bradford and will be delivered in partnership with Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and Family Action.

Based in the Better Start Bradford area of Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton, Little Minds Matter: Bradford Infant Mental Health service will support expectant parents and those with children up to the age of two that may need some extra support in developing the relationship with their baby.

The project offers support either on a one-to-one or group basis and can help with problems that are affecting the relationship between parents and babies. These difficulties could come about during pregnancy, such as anxieties about the unborn baby, during the birth, for example a traumatic labour, or following the birth, such as low mood or worries about bonding.

Dr Gemma Dyble, Clinical Lead and Clinical Psychologist in the Little Minds Matter team said: “When we talk about infant mental health, people often wonder how mental health issues can affect those so young. It helps us to think about a baby’s emotional wellbeing. Healthy first relationships are really important for a baby’s future mental health and development. If a baby feels safe and secure and experiences the world as a consistent, loving place, they will build a healthy brain and grow into a confident person who enjoys happy relationships.”

“As a service, we feel that parents want to give the best possible start for their babies. However, there are challenges that can get in the way of this happening. Our service aims to help these families to achieve their positive intentions, whilst recognising that some families cannot do it alone.”

Jo Howes, Integration and Change Manager at Better Start Bradford, added: “We are really pleased to be launching the Little Minds Matter project.  It is exciting to be able to offer our families support in building relationships with their babies whilst also supporting those in the community that are working with them.  We are learning all the time about the importance of babies emotional wellbeing and healthy first relationships and we are really keen to find out as much as we can from this project.”

Sarah Maruyama, Family Action’s Operational Manager, Bradford said:“We are keen to build on the success of our Better Start Bradford Perinatal Support service and look forward to working with our Little Minds Matter partners.  We have successfully worked with people accessing services from a diverse range of communities in the past and look forward to successful engagement in the development of this exciting new service.”

The project also offers training, consultation and support to other professionals working across the Better Start Bradford area, to increase awareness of infant mental health and help them know what they can do to support people that may need a helping hand.

During Infant Mental Health Awareness week Better Start Bradford will be visiting baby groups with the Little Minds Matter team and another project Baby Steps to talk with mums and dads about treasuring helpful experiences from the past and getting help when they need to leave negative experiences behind. Mums or dads will be able to decorate treasure boxes to take home, and can take part in some gentle reflection activities. Most importantly the teams will be listening to parents to hear what helps their relationship with their baby to blossom.

If you live in the Better Start Bradford area and think you could benefit from the help of the Little Minds Matter team please speak to your GP, midwife or other healthcare professional who will be able to refer you.

For further information please visit http://www.bdct.nhs.uk/services/little-minds-matter/

Better Start Bradford is part of the National Lottery funded ‘A Better Start’ programme set up by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. A Better Start works with families so they play an active part in deciding on and designing the services and support they get so they can give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. It is one of five major programmes set up by the Big Lottery Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.