women mental healthThe All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Conception to Age 2 into perinatal mental health and child maltreatment which suggests that the cost of failing to deal with these issues is £23billion.

The report, The First 1001 Days, is the result of an inquiry conducted by the APPG and also found that poor parental-child attachment can be passed down from one generation to the next, "creating a vicious cycle and damaging environment in which to grow up".

Commenting on the findings, Dr Cheryll Adams, Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said: Jenny Edwards, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation said: "At the Mental Health Foundation we are committed to undertaking research to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. The case for providing parents with appropriate support early in their child’s life is self-evident, both in terms of the child’s welfare and development but also in terms of the ongoing costs to society. The basis of a child’s future emotional well-being begins at conception, £10 spent on providing a child with a sure footing in life saves up to £70 in the costs of mental health care and support in adolescence and adulthood.

"This new research will help us to get the long-term policy change that is so desperately needed, to make sure that prevention is high on the agenda and that mental health is supported right from conception. This intervention has been shown to improve communication and attachment between mother and baby, and can help to protect the baby against developing emotional or behavioural problems in later life. Outcomes which have reinforced our view that perinatal support, similar to our Early Intervention Project, should be available universally. To that end, the Mental Health Foundation endorses the cross party All-Party Parliamentary group’s call for all of the political parties to prioritise early intervention and support."

Launched last week [25 Feb] at the Speaker’s House in Parliament, the report is the culmination of months of inquiry sessions which took evidence from a committee panels of experts and Parliamentarians to investigate the various factors that affect the emotional and social development of children from conception to age 2.

No less a priority than defence of the realm
Tim Loughton MP, former Children’s Minister and Chairman of the APPG for Conception to Age 2, has been overseeing the inquiry.

He said: “As our report shows perinatal mental health and child maltreatment are closely linked and, more importantly, largely avoidable. That is the equivalent of more than two thirds of the annual Defence Budget going on a problem that is widespread and, when unchecked, passes from one poorly parented generation to the next. Tackling it should be no less a priority for our politicians and our health and social care professionals than defence of the realm.”

The over-arching inquiry pulls together previous research in the area to offer two main conclusions:
- In order to deliver socially and emotionally capable children at age 2, local policies need to be based on a commitment to primary prevention. The evidence presented in the Inquiry strongly indicates that identification of need should take place before the child is harmed, not after. Therefore, inspection should look closely at primary prevention measures which would deliver this result.
- Without intervention, there will be in the future, as there has been in the past, high transmission of disadvantage, inequality, dysfunction and child maltreatment from one generation to the next and subsequent generations, and the economic value of breaking these cycles will be enormous.

In addition, the report offers nine recommendations which it says are practical, achievable but, above all, the minimum essential if society is to tackle these issues.

To read the report in full visit www.1001criticaldays.co.uk