Sandra Greenwald, IMH-E wrote this letter to her local newspaper, The Morning Sun.
To the Editor:
Thank you to Tracy Crawford for her informational article regarding infant mental health (IMH) services in Michigan. I have been an infant mental health specialist for Community Mental Health for Central Michigan for more than 24 years. Michigan was at the forefront of the development of infant mental health theory and practice beginning in 1972 when University of Michigan professor of psychoanalysis Selma Fraiberg received a grant to study attachment in mothers and infants in distress. She developed a therapeutic intervention for babies and their parents addressing attachment and later (1973 – 1974) joined with Betty Tableman, of the Michigan Department of Mental Health at the time, spearheading the establishment of pilot programs in infant mental health across our state at CMH agencies. These services were focussed on low-income parents with concerns that posed “risk” for the healthy development of their babies. From its birth in our State, IMH has grown to world-wide acceptance as a researched, therapeutic practice. The Journal of Infant Mental Health is published in Michigan and serves as a resource for at least 27 countries around the world.
The Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health has also begun an endorsement system to track the expertise, training and continuing education of infant mental health specialists. Therefore, an endorsed IMH specialist demonstrates a certain level of knowledge and training in the field. This process, as well, is serving as a model for 10 other states in the country. CMH for Central Michigan is currently training 5 additional home-based therapists for endorsement in IMH so that each of our six counties (Isabella, Midland, Gladwin, Clare, Mecosta, Osceola) will include an endorsed specialist.
I bring this to our attention as we consider the future of our state and elect those who will direct it. Services to and nurturing of our youngest citizens can save significant cost later in areas of special education, health care, mental health treatment, court involvement and incarceration. Brain development is most rapid during the earliest years and is resistant to change later in life. There are many effective services, in addition to infant mental health, that focus on a child’s earliest years of learning and growth. Michigan needs these youngest citizens to have the best start possible.