Communities will comprehend the impact of early emotional trauma on child and adult health, and the field of mental health will gradually shift from a focus on fixing broken children (after the diagnosis of pathology) to a focus on working with families to protect emotional health from the beginning of life and to recognize and intervene in challenges at the earliest point of detection.
To inform the community about the role of childhood emotional trauma in adult health—mental, physical and behavioral— and to provide an environment that allows families to easily access the skills they need to prevent or to intervene early in experiences threatening toxic stress or trauma to their children.
This revolution in thinking and practice can best be compared to the Lamaze movement of half a century ago. Fifty years ago, it was common practice for mothers to go into labor with little knowledge or preparation for the process. Fathers were typically excluded altogether.
Lamaze and childbirth education created an entirely new expectation: that parents will be informed and educated about the process of labor and birth. Parents now expect to be in charge and to make informed decisions about anesthesia and circumcision and so forth. By equipping parents with knowledge and skills tailored to their concerns, negative birth outcomes, including stillbirth and complications in the perinatal period have been greatly reduced. The professional’s role has shifted from total control of the process to a team effort that begins with shared knowledge and coaching so that parents make their own healthy decisions. This is exactly the expectation we are creating with the Parenting Institute for parents with children all along the developmental spectrum.
Imagine how all of our lives might be different – in terms of crime, safety, the quality of our schools, – if we applied a Lamaze or a pediatric health model to children’s mental and emotional health.
Copyright 2015 The Parenting Institute