Infant Mental Health: A Lens For Maternal And Child Mental Health Disparities

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Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment

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Maternal and child mental health disparities exist in the United States among people of color and people with low socioeconomic status. Adverse maternal and child mental health has short- and long-term consequences for both mothers and children. The persistent and intergenerational nature of maternal and child mental health disparities reflect an important social justice issue to which social workers must respond. The infant mental health framework can guide social workers in understanding and addressing these disparities. This framework provides a useful lens through which practitioners can understand and support the context and development of caregiver-infant dyads. This manuscript reviews maternal and child mental health disparities, provides an overview of the infant mental health framework, and describes implications for the social work practice. With roots in the social work profession and emphasis on human development within social context, the infant mental health provides insight to social work practitioners, scholars, and educators.



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