The foundations of mental health are set in the first five years of life. During these years, children rapidly develop social and emotional capacities that prepare them to be self-confident, trusting, empathetic, intellectually inquisitive, competent in using language to communicate and capable of relating well to others. These emotional skills form the foundation of a child's "healthy mental development" - to develop the ability to regulate and express emotions, form close personal relationships with other children and adults, and explore and learn from their environment. This social-emotional foundation also plays a key role in determining a child's school readiness.
Iowa's 1st Five Healthy Mental Development Initiative builds partnerships between physician practices and public service providers to enhance high quality well-child care. 1st Five promotes the use of developmental tools that support healthy mental development for young children during the first five years. By using a tool for all children that includes social-emotional development and family risk factors, providers are able to identify children at risk for developmental concerns that, if left untreated, would play out later in life.
1st Five works with local child health agencies operating in Iowan counties with participating medical practices, impacting approximately 65,000 children from birth to 5 who are seen for well-child exams at these practices. Pending funding, the intent of the 1st Five Initiative is to continue to expand throughout Iowa.
For more information about 1st Five, contact the 1st Five state coordinator at: 1-800-383-3826