Children North East's project for parents struggling to bond with their babies is recognised as a ‘rare jewel’ in a ground-breaking report presented to Parliament at the start of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (10-15 June)

NEWPIP (Newcastle Parent Infant Partnership) is one of only 27 specialist parent infant relationship teams in the country and today’s report by the national charity, Parent Infant Partnership UK, calls on the Government to fund more like them.

The report, launched with Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price; Stockton South Labour MP, Dr Paul Williams and Conservative, Tim Loughton calls for specialised parent-infant relationship teams to support all families who need them by 2030.

Children under two missing out

Mother and Baby

Almost half of Child and Young People’s Mental Health Services are excluding the youngest children. And whilst the Government has committed to providing specialist mental health support for ALL children aged from 0-25 in the next decade, this new research finds that currently, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in 42% of Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas in England do not accept referrals for children aged two or under. This is despite the fact commissioners should be securing services for ALL children.

Peter Toolan, Clinical Lead for NEWPIP, dubbed the patchy provision of parent-infant relationship teams ‘a serious health inequality.’ 

He said:

Those providing and funding services should be aware that it is not cost effective not to make Infant Mental Health services available to all.

Dr Paul Williams, MP for Stockton South and Chair of the Health Select Committee’s 1000 Days Inquiry added: “Early relationships between babies and their parents are incredibly important for building healthy brains. There is no more important time in a person's life than early childhood.

"Relationships, language, behaviour and social skills are all learnt from parents, but not everyone gets it right all of the time. Parent-infant teams do vital work with vulnerable families to help their babies to have the very best start in life.”

Many more services are needed

The report explains, for the first time, what specialised parent-infant relationship teams are and why they matter and it calls for many more services to be rolled out nationwide within the next decade.

Projects like NEWPIP have multidisciplinary teams with expertise in supporting and strengthening the important relationships between babies and their parents or carers. PIP UK identifies these teams as ‘Rare Jewels’ describing how they are small, scarce, but – where they do exist – incredibly valuable.

After a comprehensive exploration of parent-infant relationship teams in the UK, PIP UK could find only 27 of them in the whole of the UK– NEWPIP being one. But their value is being realised, and an increasing number of commissioners are funding new services - despite the difficult economic climate.

'Babies are amazing'

NEWPIP’S Peter Toolan (pictured above), added: 'Babies are amazing. They arrive pre-programmed to adapt to their emotional environment - which means their parents' love and care.

“If this emotional environment is an unhappy or unstable one, the baby will adapt to that, causing potentially lifelong problems and missed opportunities.  Specially trained and skilled practitioners are available in only a few areas of the UK, where parents and babies can receive really effective help, as early as possible, when the baby's brain is at its most sensitive and growing at the fastest rate throughout life.

“In Newcastle, the Children North East NEWPIP service is available free to all parents, but only if you live in Newcastle.  It is not available to parents in surrounding areas.  This is a serious health inequality.  Those providing and funding services should be aware that it is not cost effective not to make Infant Mental Health services available to all.”

Find out how NEWPIP can help

Bonding With Baby