Defining a “Mental Health Perspective”

Defining a “Mental Health Perspective”

teacher and child

Head Start administrators are encouraged to approach program development by incorporating a mental health perspective, in which the principles of mental health are infused across all aspects of the program, including services that support the positive mental health of children, families, and staff.

Programs with a mental health perspective integrate mental health principles throughout the education, health, disability, nutrition, and social services components of Head Start and Early Head Start, while creating an organizational environment that supports, values, and promotes staff wellness. Rather than placing the responsibility of mental health services and staff wellness solely on the mental health consultant or mental health/disabilities coordinator, programs with a mental health perspective distribute the responsibility for implementing the program-wide vision for mental health services across staff, administrators, and mental health consultants. Consequently, families, staff, and administrators work together with a common, shared vision of mental health services that support the social and emotional development of children and their families and the well-being of program staff.

Finally, a mental health perspective values the promotion of positive mental health for all children, families, and staff, prevention services for children and families who are at risk of social-emotional behavioral challenges, and intervention for children who are experiencing those challenges and their families.

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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.