Opportunities in Home Visiting Programs for Improving Mental Health

Home Visiting programs provide an opportunity to build social and emotional competence in young children, their parents, and program staff. In California, the federally funded MIECHV programs and Project LAUNCH are collaborating to improve outcomes in behavioral/mental health at all levels. In addition, the early intervention services typically provided in family homes under IDEA Part C in California are focused on improved social and emotional outcomes for children enrolled in Part C services. All of these promotion and prevention efforts are important in improving overall mental health for children and their families.

Home visitors in public health programs frequently engage and serve families with complex histories who are at high risk for depression and other mental health issues. The new mothers in these home visiting programs often have unmet mental health needs related to previous trauma histories. Too often, home visiting program staff struggle to identify mental health issues in families and to provide referrals for treatment services. California LAUNCH is expanding its successful model from the original Project LAUNCH, of Mental Health Consultation and Services in Home Visiting Programs. The model engages licensed mental health specialists to work alongside home visitors to provide training and support on mental health topics, reflective supervision, case consultation and case review, crisis intervention and some direct mental health services to home visiting families. The model advocates a two-generation approach to meeting mothers’ and babies’ mental and behavioral health needs. Previous LAUNCH evaluation results in California demonstrated an improved ability of home visitors to meet the mental health needs of their clients. In surveys, strong majorities of home visitors reported that due to the addition of mental health consultation and services in their home visiting program, they increased their knowledge of mental health issues, learned new approaches in working with families with mental health needs, felt more capable of helping families connect to and receive the mental services, and decreased the amount of secondary stress they experienced in their work.

The work of the original California Project LAUNCH Program in Alameda County led to a policy brief focused on the integration of mental health supports in home visiting programs. It is available for download at the following website: 
LAUNCH CA Policy Brief Integrating Mental Health in Home Visiting

What Makes the Right Mental Health Consultant?
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Diversity-informed Infant Mental Health Tenets
Irving Harris Foundation Professional Development Network

The Diversity-Informed Infant Mental Health Tenets (Tenets) is a set of 10 guiding principles developed by the Irving Harris Foundation and is a helpful resource for infant mental health consultants to support the home visitors in their daily work with infants and families to promote diversity informed and culturally appropriate services and to address disparity issues. The Tenets document is provided in English and Spanish. See full document

More information about the Diversity Informed IMH Tenets