Minister launches North Cork Infant Mental Health Network Model

Minister of State for Primary Care, Social Care and Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch TD will formally launch the North Cork Infant Mental Health Network Model at the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre today, Friday July 17th at 2pm.Mother and child

Over the past number of  years, Primary Care Psychology services in Cork North have received significant referrals pertaining to infants  and toddlers who have problems with  sleeping and feeding or situations where parents find it very difficult to soothe them. If persistent, these stressful and upsetting problems can place considerable strain on the relationship between parents / carers and young children.

Research tells us that the quality of a parent’s relationship has a direct impact on the infants  and toddlers social and emotional development and that early intervention is very important when problems occurs especially in the early years of an infant and toddler.

Catherine Maguire, Senior Clinical Psychologist and Infant Mental Health Specialist  said “Early experiences for infants and toddlers matter and the role of the caregiver relationship is critical in supporting early development. What happens during the infant stage of development lays the foundation for future psychological social and emotional functioning, health and wellbeing. Infant Mental Health provides a unique opportunity to ensure the interactions that occur between the infant-parent/caregiver relationship are promoted and supported. Adverse early childhood experiences impacts on the young child’s social and emotional development. Untreated, their effects will continue to impact negatively on physical, social, emotional health".


The North Cork Child and Family Psychology service developed the Infant Mental Health (IMH) model to meet the needs of these young children and their families. Master classes were devised and delivered by them to frontline professionals who come into contact with young children and families to increase their knowledge and skills in this area with the aim of ensuring that young children have their needs met at the earliest possible contact.

During the next stage of the model, the HSE primary care psychology service enlisted the support and collaboration of the Cork North Community Work Department which led to the development of Infant Mental Health Network Groups in the community. These groups are made up of a wide range of professionals who have contact with young children and families such as staff from  HSE and Tusla , family resource centres, community childcare projects, ethnic minority services and others. The purpose of these groups who meet regularly is to expand and consolidate clinical knowledge and to support its integration into their work with families.  The North Cork Infant Mental Health Network Groups are believed to be the first of their kind internationally.

An evaluation of the training model is also being launched today. This evaluation demonstrates the effectiveness of the Infant Mental Health Network Training Model  in increasing the knowledge and skills of group members who report that they are better placed to respond to the needs of infants, toddlers and their parents / carers .It also demonstrates the Infant Mental Health Network Training Model  is a very effective model  of service provision that can be rolled out in other Primary Care areas across the country.

Yvonne Finn Orde, General Manager Cork North said “The Infant Mental Health practice in North Cork was led by the pioneering work of Catherine Maguire and Rochelle Matacz, Senior Clinical Psychologists and Infant Mental Health Specialists, HSE Cork North Child and Family Psychology Services.  The HSE has been pleased to support and fund the training for this innovative work.   It is now very rewarding to see their work and expertise being rolled out across North Cork  and in other parts of the country where North Cork Primary care has facilitated the training of staff in this model and has worked collaboratively with both HSE and Voluntary Sector partners in educating interdisciplinary groups of professionals, voluntary groups and, in turn, the public, regarding Infant Mental Health principles and practices and integrating them into service across the community - making infant and toddler mental health everybody’s business.

Brendan Scahill, Community Worker said, “We are glad that our Department has had this opportunity to work in collaboration with our colleagues in the Psychology department, HSE, to develop the model so that together a rich learning environment has been created and continues to thrive in North Cork”

Infant Mental Health Evaluation document.pdf (size 1.9 MB)

Last updated on: 17 / 07 / 2015