Stronger from the Start is an alliance of more than 40 organisations from across the community and voluntary sector in Northern Ireland, working together to promote and improve infant mental health.
As part of the Stronger from the Start Alliance we are continually working to amplify the importance of infant mental health by campaigning for meaningful change in policy, practice, and life experiences.
The Alliance successfully campaigned for and welcomed the inclusion of infants within the Mental Health Strategy for Northern Ireland 2021-2031 and we are committed to continuing to raise political awareness in this area.
Our campaigning hasn’t stopped there. We are continuing to lobby for the recognition of the importance of the first 1001 days and the need to prioritise infants and their families in strategy development and service delivery.
Our key asks are summarised in our most recent manifesto which you can read here.
What is infant mental health?
Infants need trusting, secure and reliable relationships with their parents or main caregiver. The infant can recognise these qualities through the way they are held, talked to, touched, and cared for. These early interactions during the first weeks, months and years of life prepare the way for strong, healthy social and emotional health and wellbeing across the lifespan.
Why are the first 1,001 days so important?
The first 1,001 days include pregnancy and the first two years of a child's life. This is an age of opportunity. There is clear, compelling evidence that this period lays the foundation for every child’s future health, wellbeing, learning and earnings potential. It sets the groundwork for children’s developing emotional wellbeing, resilience and adaptability. During these 1,001 days, we can lay a foundation of health and wellbeing whose benefits last a lifetime – and carry into the next generation.
How do we promote good infant mental health?
Early years investment is the most evidenced and cost-effective way of transforming child and family outcomes. By working to #includeinfants in policy, strategy and service delivery we can deliver generational change. We believe if we act early, we will see individual, economic, systemic and societal benefits.
Our Stronger from the Start Manifesto 2022 outlines our key asks for the promotion and improvement of infant mental health in Northern Ireland. These asks cover 4 key areas:
leadership & Collaboration
improving Evidence & Policy
Join the Stronger from the Start Alliance
All community and voluntary sector organisations operating in Northern Ireland are welcome to join the Stronger from the Start Infant Mental Health Alliance.
However big or small, whatever your primary area of interest, if you support our manifesto, we’d love to welcome you.
To sign up or find out more, please email our admin: [email protected]
Become an Association Infant Mental Health UK (AIMH UK) member
AIMH UK offers a range of membership benefits and packages for individuals and organisations seeking to enhance their professional knowledge, skills and networks on infant mental health.
Members in Northern Ireland also have access to the NI Infant Mental Health Hub for area specific updates and events.
'Back to Basics' roundtable event
On 19th November 2021, the Stronger from the Start Alliance hosted an online event called 'Back to Basics: Infant Mental Health Roundtable' for political representatives and their team to explore what we mean by infant mental health, the importance of promoting good infant mental health, and to start developing a shared vision for ensuring our babies and families are #StrongerFromTheStart.
Speakers included the Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, Siobhán O’Neill, Professor Nicola Doherty and Dr Dominic McSherry and you can watch the videos of their presentations by clicking on the below links:
For more information about the event you can read the 'Back to Basics Roundtable report' by tapping here,
Our consultation responses
Read our latest joint consultation responses below. These highlight key issues for infants and their families, and make recommendations for policy and practice.
Communications and updates
Keep up to date by reading our latest communications and updates below.