November 1, 2013
Home visiting programs have been successful in engaging and enrolling families who are at high risk for stress, depression, and substance abuse. However, many of these mothers may not be receiving mental health services because home visitors lack the knowledge and skills to identify mental health or determine how to appropriately address these problems. In response, a growing number of home visiting programs are expanding their capacity by integrating a mental health provider into their ongoing operations. This approach, referred to as early childhood mental health consultation, involves a partnership between a professional consultant with early childhood mental health expertise and home visiting or family support programs, staff, and families. This integrated model holds the promise of promoting parent and child behavioral health by enhancing the capacity of home visitors to identify and appropriately address the unmet mental health needs of children and families. The article highlights efforts under way in several federally funded Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health Project sites where local programs are testing the effectiveness of this model.