November 2020 Newsletter

This newsletter is brought to you by the contributions of CalAIMH committee members and designed by the marketing committee. Thank you to all that help make this newsletter possible. Your dedication to CalAIMH is greatly appreciated.

A Message from President - Marian Williams, MD

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Marian Williams

Exclusive Featured Article

Dads in the Time of COVID

October 28, 2020
By: Kevin Gruenberg, PsyD & Richard Cohen, PhD
Dads can form deep and lasting attachments with their children. They encourage exploration, self-discovery and mastery, while promoting emotional and behavioral regulation and social competence. Attuned fathers also reduce the risk of mental health challenges for children and buffer the impact of maternal depression on the family. Given the overwhelming positive benefits of father involvement on the social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development of young children, how can the field of early childhood mental health (ECMH) recognize fathers, regardless of whether they live with their child, as primary allies in the promotion of family resilience?

Fathers are also at risk of mental health challenges. Approximately 10% of new fathers meet the criteria for Perinatal and Anxiety Disorders, a rate comparable to new mothers. The rate for fathers increases to 25% to 50% when mothers suffer from clinical depression. Currently, these rates are much higher, given the significant increase of depression in the general population during the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the risk of child abuse and neglect, and intimate

partner violence grows alongside paternal depression.

Because paternal distress manifests differently from common perceptions of depression, and because men are less likely to seek help, we often misdiagnose their conditions. Symptoms of “Masked Male Depression” are exemplified by: 1) extreme irritability; 2) social isolation or withdrawal; 3) increased alcohol or substance use, and 4) physical somatic issues, as opposed to expressions of sadness. When we understand how fathers show distress, we can better address family challenges and support them to become safer and more resilient.

Despite the inability to interact with families in person during the pandemic, virtual sessions and communication can provide substantive and clear pathways for us to integrate fathers. Shifting our mindsets are the first step in encouraging better father participation; we must recognize the value of fathers to young children; assume that dads, regardless of their living situation, want to and will participate in services; acknowledge that dual-parent participation in treatment improves outcomes for children.
This new perspective change necessitates policy and practice updates. It is vital to obtain the father's name and contact information at the onset of services, and to maintain regular communication with both parents, especially when scheduling appointments to ensure dual-parent engagement. Sharing all materials and psychoeducation with both parents and encouraging them to talk through their own thoughts and concerns together as well as with their clinicians on zoom, phone, or email ensure optimal skill-building and growth. Furthermore, if fathers are unable to attend sessions, we work to include them virtually or on the phone. We also advocate for fathers to have time alone with their infants and to increase caretaking responsibilities (e.g., feeding, bed time/napping, bathing, etc.). This improves their paternal confidence and competence. The final recommendation is to screen fathers for mental health challenges and have referrals and resources for fathers who need additional support available. Fathers are both untapped assets and in need of mental health and parenting support in ECMH. We will strengthen families and improve childhood resilience, when the field shifts their perspective from a dyadic maternal-child health model towards family-child health.

Announcement - Incoming Board of Directors

As announced during the Annual Meeting, here is your incoming board for 2020-21:

Richard Cohen, PhD, President Elect
Adriana Cuestas, PsyD, Board Member at Large
Marcy Erickson, RN, BSN, PHN, Board Member at Large
Penny Knapp, MD, FAACAP, FAAP, Board Member at Large
Wendy Lee, PsyD, Board Treasurer
Steven Loreus, BCBA, Board Member at Large
Vasudha Narasimha, LCSW, Board Member at Large
Barbara Stroud, PhD, Past President
Marian E. Williams, PhD, President
Desiree Yoro Yoo, LCSW, Board Secretary

Highlight a CalAIMH Member - Taklai Melissa Li

Photo - Taklai Melissa Li
Melissa is a multicultural Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Art Therapist. She is currently working as a dyadic therapist and providing mental health consultation services. Melissa is being trained in Child-Parent Psychotherapy and is pursuing endorsement as an Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and a Reflective Practice Facilitator II. She has worked in the field of community-based mental health for the past 8 years. Her past work experience includes providing intensive mental health services for children and youth within the foster care and juvenile justice system,
pregnant and parenting teens,and domestic violence survivors. These experiences have led her to understand the importance and need for prevention and early intervention care. She is passionate about providing culturally-sensitive and accessible care, fostering healthy emotional connections in the early years of life, and supporting families in repairing ruptures in their relationships. Melissa believes in building authentic and trusting relationships, meeting clients where they’re at with an open heart and mind, and empowering individuals in their journey towards self-acceptance. Melissa is deeply inspired when witnessing the parent-child relationship blossoms and strengthens over time. One specific memory that comes to mind was seeing the transformation of a dyad from being physically distant in their initial play sessions transitioned to the parent becoming fully immersed in her child’s play. It brought so much
joy to observe this parent following her child’s lead by participating in princess play tea parties with her child and her dolls, playing dress up as Disney characters while singing along to their theme songs, and effortlessly hugging and expressing words of endearment. It is an honor to witness parents break the cycle of intergenerational trauma, courageously learn to trust in themselves and others, create a new narrative for their family, and provide the love they did not receive in their own childhoods. Melissa is grateful to be a member of CalAIMH and humbled to learn from this community.

Has your Membership Expired?

Our annual membership renewal process has been streamlined to allow for automatic yearly payment through PayPal. Make sure to check your membership status through your member portal.
If you have any questions, please email:

Policy Committee - Request for Information

Part of our work in the CalAIMH policy committee is to advocate for CalAIMH members to be more active in local organizations and groups that are involved with shaping policy for infants, young children and families at local, regional or state levels. We also want members to know about opportunities for their clients to be involved in community groups such as local school councils and city government boards and want these organizations to be enriched by the knowledge and diversity of our members and their clients. We are currently writing an article for the CalAIMH newsletter that will help members locate and engage with these organizations and it would help immensely if you could list the opportunities you know about at the local or county level that members or their clients might want to access. These can be organizations you are involved with directly or know about. Please share this information by clicking on the survey below.

Clinical Interventions Committee Spotlight

The Clinical Interventions Committee series of "Conversations from the Field" started this month of October. Dr. Elvia Cortes led our first Spanish speaking group conversation addressing practitioners' burnout. We are grateful for members who participated and offered to share their stories. We learned that compassionate and trustful relationships during this crisis continue to be the pillars of supportive interventions in our work with families and young children. We recognized that practitioners feeling isolated and receiving minimal professional support can significantly benefit from attending community practice group meetings offered outside their agencies.

We are looking forward to CalAIMH members' participation in the next Conversations from the Field group meetings scheduled in November and December.
Click on images to view registration information.
Conversations From the Field - Report Writing
Conversations From the Field - Helping the Healers
Membership will be verified by the training and membership committees. Make sure your membership is in good standing to participate.

Training Committee Updates

CalAIMH Endorsement Support
If you wish to suggest a topic and/or presenter for a webinar, please contact us to complete a training proposal form. If you are interested in joining the Training & Education committee email us at:

Marketing Committee Updates

As CalAIMH is growing, we find that the needs of the marketing committee have been increasing as well. Joining our committee is a great way to showcase your artistic and creative talents to support and broaden our reach to the Infant Mental Health community. We welcome and embrace different perspectives to help us be successful in our current approaches and to explore new possibilities. We look forward to collaborating and learning from you!

Leadership Updates
Incoming Board Liaison - Vasudha Narasimha
Board Chair - Peggy Zherdev

Our heartfelt gratitude to Patricia Lakatos, current Board Liaison until the end of the year, for her vision, passion and commitment to this committee throughout the years!

Member Reminders

Got FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)?
Visit the Events page on the CalAIMH website to see the full list of upcoming events. You can see the details of each event and find registration links, if applicable. Fill up your calendar with CalAIMH today!

Did You Know?
Members are able to view past webinars when they log in to the CalAIMH website using their member login information. Find the "member portal" at the top right hand corner of the website and click on the link. There you will find past webinars for you to view. You can also view job opportunities on the CalAIMH website under the "Resources" tab.

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