Coinciding with Children’s Mental Health Week (5th-11th February), Kent County Council (KCC) is seeking feedback on two draft strategies aimed at nurturing young hearts and minds and nourishing the next generation.
Nutrition, love and care are the foundations for happy, healthy children. But national analysis shows unsupported poor mental health linked to pregnancy and early years care can significantly impact parents and the bond they build with their baby.
Many mums can also feel unprepared for breastfeeding and families may not be sure about how to support them.
The consultation follows the recent creation by KCC of a helpline and text service to support expecting, or new parents and carers, who may be struggling with their mental health. Grants were also made available to help businesses and organisations make their premises more breastfeeding friendly for customers and to support firms and groups working with the county’s young, growing families.
Nurturing little hearts and minds: a perinatal mental health and parent-infant relationship strategy
Is a five-year plan co-produced by leading children’s charity Barnardo's with parents, families and partners. It sets out the ways in which KCC plans to work with partners to support infants, parents and families during pregnancy and the first two years of life, to nurture positive mental health and build strong parent-infant relationships.
Nourishing our next generation: a 5-year infant feeding strategy
Sets out five key themes and how these could be developed to support families in their infant feeding journey. This includes ways to reduce barriers to breastfeeding, including in public spaces, and helping mums and their family learn about infant feeding choices before their new baby arrives.
Launched today and running until Wednesday, 3rd April, the consultation is available to read, download and respond to on KCC’s Let’s Talk Kent website.
“...we want to make sure we hear from as many families and those working with them as possible to ensure the final plans take account of all views”
KCC Director of Public Health, Dr Anjan Ghosh, said: “The benefits of a baby receiving good care are almost too endless to name. Yet we know that parenting is not always easy and some parents and carers will need help along the way.
“As is often said: ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. This is as true today as it has ever been. It means all services, sectors, professionals, and volunteers must work together to provide families with wrap-around care.
“Many have already fed into the development of our two strategies through surveys, interviews and workshops. As a result, I believe they set out well how KCC and its many partners can achieve our shared goals. But we want to make sure we hear from as many families and those working with them as possible to ensure the final plans take account of all views.”
“We want all our families to be able to make informed choices about how they care for their baby and who they turn to for support”
Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Adult Social Care, Dan Watkins, added: “We want all our families to be able to make informed choices about how they care for their baby and who they turn to for support.
“Our new Kent Family Hubs programme and the establishment of Kent and Medway’s Integrated Care System create new opportunities for working together across organisations and with our communities.
“But deciding how to make best use of these opportunities is something we can’t do alone. I urge mums, dads, co-parents, carers and others with experience of early-years care to take part in our consultation so the final strategies are truly fit for future generations.”
Further help to take part in the consultation
- If you need a paper copy of the consultation material, or any help taking part in this consultation, please email email@example.com.
- To request any alternative formats, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03000 421553 (text relay service number 18001 03000 421553). This number goes to an answering machine, which is monitored during office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Who to contact for perinatal mental health support
- If you are expecting to become a parent or are a new parent, co-parent or carer, and things don’t feel quite right, you can talk confidentially to one of our trained advisors via our helpline and text service which is available for you 24/7.
- Text KENT to 85258 or phone 0800 107 0160, for free, when things don’t feel quite right.
- For more information visit kent.gov.uk/familyhub/mentalhealthhelpline.