The Pennsylvania Association for Infant Mental Health (PA-AIMH) will soon be offering a nationally recognized system for professionals across multiple service areas to meet competencies and earn a professional endorsement focusing on relationship-based, culturally-sensitive practices supporting infant and early childhood mental health.

The Infant Mental Health Endorsement® (IMH-E®) and Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement® (ECMH-E®) are specifically designed to provide a framework for specialized training and reflective supervision to support the promotion of infant & early mental health principles, prevention of related disorders, intervention through supports for affected children and families, and relationship-based treatment, when needed. This framework includes a broad array of infant & early childhood mental health competencies (“IECMH Competencies”) that professionals may have gained, or can seek to gain, through education, work experience, or professional development, and which are recognized in Pennsylvania and 26 other states.

The IECMH Competencies® are organized within several Areas of Expertise.
There are four categories of Endorsement®, designed for professionals whose work spans the scope of services provided to young children and their families. Working in collaboration with Pennsylvania Project LAUNCH, PA-AIMH’s goal is to facilitate a broad range of professionals—child care professionals, early intervention service coordinators, home visitors, medical providers, child welfare professionals, and more—in gaining this important level of expertise to improve their daily work. PA-AIMH and Project LAUNCH are working to implement Endorsement® to enable the first Pennsylvania cohorts to complete their work in 2018.

Project LAUNCH will be providing special direct support for interested early adopters through several LAUNCH IMH Learning Collaboratives in 2018 and 2019. Among the benefits of seeking the Infant or Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement® (IMH-E®/ECMH-E®):

  • Current knowledge and framework: You know the importance of supporting infant and early childhood mental health in your daily work. Because Endorsement® revolves around competencies that are expressly relationship-based and culturally-sensitive, seeking and maintaining I/ECMH-E® provides a framework for maintaining focus on these principles and keeping current with the latest research and learning going forward.
  • Cross-sector networking and relationships: Supporting strong infant and early childhood mental health isn’t just for counselors. Research shows that it is critical to have infant mental health principles and best practices embedded in all systems that serve children and families. Endorsement® is designed to engage professionals across systems. Acquiring the I/ECMH-E® can enhance and improve your daily practice not only through training but by showing professionals in other service areas, at a glance, that you prioritize and have deep commitment to infant mental health principles and practice. These professionals interact with and impact your own clients every day: they are medical and mental health professionals, early intervention specialists, early childhood providers, and child welfare professionals, to name just a few. They will recognize the I/ECMH-E® designation as an indicator of your expertise, and will interact with you accordingly.
  • Reflective Supervision as best practice and future opportunity: Endorsement® is not only about training; the Endorsement® process also includes a focus on the value of Reflective Supervision. Reflective Supervision has been recognized in the counseling field as a critical part of professional practice, and I/ECMH-E® will serve to raise the visibility and availability of this critical practice for providers across the span of services for young children. During the current implementation period in Pennsylvania, those seeking or maintaining their I/ECMH-E® designation will have some flexibility in finding qualified persons to provide their Reflective Supervision. However, after a critical mass of professionals earn their Endorsement®, only those holding the I/ECMH-E® designation will be qualified to provide Reflective Supervision to candidates for Endorsement® and those renewing their I/ECMH-E® credential. If you have an interest in providing Reflective Supervision to others as a part of your professional practice, I/ECMH-E® will become increasingly important to you both clinically and from a business perspective.
  • Project LAUNCH Learning Collaboratives: The cross-pollination, depth of understanding and networking benefits built into the I/ECMH-E® process is enhanced right now with the involvement of Pennsylvania Project LAUNCH in the initial implementation of the PA-AIMH Endorsement® process. Project LAUNCH is committed to this cross-sector approach to both learning and practice in a variety of ways. The initial cohorts of professionals seeking I/ECMH-E® in Pennsylvania will have the opportunity to participate in dedicated Project LAUNCH Infant Mental Health Learning Collaboratives (“IMH Learning Collaboratives”) that will facilitate these professional supports among a range of providers. IMH Learning Collaborative participants will gain not only the knowledge and understanding embedded in the competencies but also the professional support of this initial group of participants. Through regular interaction and engagement with a group of like-minded but diverse professionals dedicated to children’s wellness and healthy development & relationships, early adopters of I/ECMH-E® who also participate in the IMH Learning Collaboratives will benefit even more.

For more information about IMH-E® & ECMH-E® and other resources relating to infant/early childhood mental health, be sure to visit the PA-AIMH website at pa-aimh.org.