The need for promotional and preventive action in the infant mental Health has become imperative as research evidence indicates high prevalence rates as high as 20% of emotional and behavioral problems in children. On the other hand, only a relatively small proportion of these individuals (10-15%) find their way to psychiatric services.
In this paper the early intervention for the promotion and prevention of the psychosocial health in infants and children under three through the primary health care services will be described.
The philosophy and the characteristics of this approach are: 1. the interventions are implemented through services which are community-based, 2. the application of promotional and preventive activities through the existing primary Health care services ensures access to greater proportion of the population within an area as well as multiplication of the effort within the services themselves, 3. the sensitization and training of primary health care workers (PHCWs) to improve their ability to assess factors that may promote the psychosocial development and/or put an infant's development at risk, building on the families' strengths, and 4. the focus is the primary care-giver and the infants themselves.
This approach will be illustrated by the presentation of an EU/WHO multicenter project implemented in six Southern European countries. The preliminary results from the implementation and the evaluation of this project in Greece will be presented.
Athens University Medical School
Department of Child Psychiatry
"Aghia Sophia" Children's Hospital, Athens