The greatest health challenge of our time is securing good mental health for our nation. To achieve good mental health, we should look no further than where it all begins – the conception of a baby.
Secure early bonding is the difference between the baby that grows up a secure, emotionally capable adult, and a baby that will become a depressive, anxious child, who will not cope well with life's ups and downs. In the most difficult cases, this baby is more likely to later experience criminality, substance abuse or depressive problems.
Human babies are unique in the animal kingdom in the extent of their underdevelopment at birth. But the physical underdevelopment is only a tiny part of it. The human brain is only partially formed when you are born. The earliest experiences of the human baby have a lifelong impact on their mental and emotional health.
The challenge is to build a stronger and happier society. What we do to intervene between conception and age two is all about building the emotional capacity of an infant. What we do after the age of two is mostly to undo damage done previously.
If we work together, we really can change society for the better.
Read my full article in the Guardian here.