What is Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC)?

IECMHC is a prevention-based approach that pairs a mental health consultant with adults who work with infants and young children in the different settings where they learn and grow, such as child care, preschool, home visiting, early intervention and their home. Mental health consultation is not about “fixing kids.” Nor is it therapy. Mental health consultation equips caregivers to facilitate children’s healthy social and emotional development. IECMHC is nationally recognized by the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) as a best practice.

Introductory Video: What is IECMHC?
IECMHC Overview Pamphlet English | En español
AMCHP’s IECMHC Best Practice Summary

What is an IECMH Consultant and What Do They Do?

Infant and early childhood mental health consultants are highly-trained licensed or license-eligible professionals with specialized knowledge in childhood development, the effects of stress and trauma on families, the importance of attachment for young children, and the impacts of adult mental health on developing children. Unlike other mental health professionals, IECMH consultants do not provide direct mental health treatment to young children or the adults who surround them. Instead, the consultant works indirectly by developing relationships with the adults in young children’s lives to build adults’ capacity to support children’s healthy social and emotional development – early and before formalized intervention is needed.

To learn more about the skills, competencies and tasks of IECMH Consultants:

How is IECMHC Different from Other IECMH Services?

IECMHC is unique in its focus on supporting young children’s social and emotional health indirectly by strengthening the adult caregivers’ capacity to foster positive IECMH. Rather than using a prescribed training/intervention package, IECMH consultants draw upon their clinical skills, mental health training and knowledge of evidence-based strategies to help identify individual and/or program needs and address them collaboratively through the caregivers they support. The consultant’s role is distinct from and complementary to a continuum of early childhood supports and services, such as child care quality coaches, nurse consultants, or Pyramid Model coaches.

To learn more about the unique and complementary nature of IECMHC:

What is the Impact of IECMHC?

IECMHC has been shown to improve children’s social skills and emotional functioning, promote healthy relationships, reduce challenging behaviors, reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions, improve classroom quality, and reduce provider stress, burnout, and turnover.

To learn more about the efficacy of IECMHC:

This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.