Getting a Head Start on Mental Health

A baby in a mint green onesie smiles and crawls on a carpet scattered with toys. Hover image

March 21, 2023

Mental health isn’t just for grownups. About 16 percent of children under 6* have mental health issues that need clinical care.

An early focus on mental health is key to preventing more severe issues later in life. Children under 5 are most at risk for the long-term impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)*. The development of a child's brain is critical at this stage.

The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation is working with two groups to address infant mental health in our state. 

The South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association (SCIMHA) received grants for two projects. The first provides training to 60 professionals who serve families. These professionals include:  

  • Home visitors. 
  • Early care and education providers. 
  • Child welfare providers. 
  • Mental health clinicians.  

This training ensures they are equipped to support children’s social emotional health. This can help reduce stress in children. It can also make them more resilient. 

The second project connects early-childhood mental health trained clinicians with childcare programs to reduce suspensions and expulsions for young children. These clinicians will focus on infant mental health at three levels: 

  • Child-focused treatment 
  • Classroom-focused support 
  • Program-focused support 

The South Carolina Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (SCNCAC) also received a grant to address infant mental health. This grant in partnership with SCIMHA will focus on the state child welfare system. The Safe Babies Court Team (SBCT) pilot program aims to lessen the trauma children face in the system. 

The SBCT will work with families in Richland, Laurens and Spartanburg counties whose children the courts have either removed or may remove from their homes. Parents will learn how to re-establish a safe home life for their child. Meanwhile, children will get care that helps them deal with past traumas so they can reunite with their families. 

“Our infant mental health grantees are on the cutting edge of serving our state’s children to improve their mental and physical health for a lifetime,” says Bree Bess, program officer with the Foundation.  
*This article includes links to third-party websites. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions are responsible for the content and privacy policy on their site. 

Complementary Content