National Institute for Health and Care Research

About Us

Supporting Early Minds has been established to help put children under 5 on the agenda for mental health research in recognition of the important role the early years have in setting the foundation for a person’s development.

It is well established that the period from conception to age 5 is a key developmental period for giving every child the best start in life.  And approximately 18% of 1.5 year olds already show signs of a mental health problem (Skovgaard 2010).

There is still a lot to be learned about the different factors associated with children’s flourishing, including the role of nurturing care, psychosocial factors and environmental influences, and how best to support families with differing needs and priorities – especially within under-served groups and communities.

To optimise the development of young children, we need to constantly develop and evaluate new methods of prevention and treatment.

Our Purpose

Supporting Early Minds has been set up to facilitate and support researchers and early years settings to develop:

  • Interventions that lead to better identification and support of early mental health problems in 0-5s, such as excessive crying, poor consolability, disruptive wake/sleep patterns and relational withdrawal
  • Interventions that lead to better identification and support of cognitive development needs such as neurodivergence or special educational needs
  • Interventions that lead to better identification and support of early parenting / caregiving issues and poorly attuned parenting / caregiving practices that can influence or impact upon a child’s development of mental health problems.

Adults with childWho We Are

We are a team of internationally renowned researchers in the Departments of Social Policy and Intervention and Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, with a long history of working with early years practitioners and services, and of co-creating and co-producing research – particularly on new interventions.

We are advised by a group of professionals from across the 0-5 sector, who bring a variety of perspectives including family hub policy, education, children’s social care, infant mental health, health visiting, public health and the voluntary sector.

Find out more about our Team and our Advisory Board.

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