What is early childhood mental health?

‘Early childhood is the period of rapid brain development that occurs between birth and age five, often forming a blueprint for life. Mental health is simply a child’s capacity to experience and regulate emotions, form close and secure relationships and play.’ (Winter ’08 IQ Magazine). Often early childhood mental health is defined as healthy social and emotional development. Just like in physical development or speech development, the earlier we address concerns, the better.

A definition of infant mental health developed by the national organization Zero to Three® is:
The developing capacity of a child from birth to three to:
1) Experience, regulate and express emotions
2) Form close and secure interpersonal relationships
3) Explore the environment and learn

All within the context of family, community and culture

What is Greater St. Cloud Area Thrive?

Greater St. Cloud Area Thrive is a project launched by the Initiative Foundation and hosted by St. Cloud State University Child and Family Studies Dept. and Sauk Rapids/Rice Early Childhood Programs. The overarching goal of Thrive is to support healthy social and emotional development of children birth to age five with a special emphasis on birth to age three, in our community. Thrive is a collaboration of community organizations, parents and community members who share the overarching goal of Thrive. For more information on the Initiative Foundation Thrive project, go to www.ifound.org To contact Greater St. Cloud Area Thrive, you can reach Jane Ellison, Project Manager, at 320-258-1103 or e-mail jane.ellison@isd47.org (put srrstudent in the subject line to get past the school filter).

Thrive Early Childhood Mental Health Directory


Links related to Early Childhood Mental Health

ZERO TO THREE is a national, nonprofit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.Our mission is to promote the health and development of infants and toddlers.


The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children, also known as TACSEI, is a five-year grant made possible by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. TACSEI takes the research that shows which practices improve the social-emotional outcomes for young children with, or at risk for, delays or disabilities and creates FREE products and resources to help decision-makers, caregivers, and service providers apply these best practices in the work they do every day.

www.macmh.org (click on the Infant and Early Childhood Division: MN Association for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health)

MAIECMH is the early childhood division of MACMH. Established in 2007 as a membership organization, MAIECMH’s mission is to promote the social and emotional development and mental health of children, prenatal through age five, and their families and caregivers.

The goals of MAIECMH include education and advocacy resulting in enhanced, culturally competent, interdisciplinary, professional capacity to serve infants, young children and their families. At the heart of this work is the relationship between a child and her or his parents/caregivers, the primary context within which mental health promotion, screening, assessment and interventions are provided.

The mission of the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) is to improve developmental outcomes for young children through applied research, training, and outreach (publications, professional development).


The Circle of Security® integrates over fifty years of early childhood attachment research into a video-based intervention to strengthen parents’ ability to observe and improve their caregiving capacity. Attachment theory, through the Circle of Security®, offers clear, individualized pathways for providing a secure relationship between parent and child.