Emerging Minds

A GP framework for infant and early childhood mental health assessment (0-5 years)

About the course

This course is for general practitioners (GPs) looking to increase their skills in assessing, managing, and supporting infants and young children (0-5 years) with mental health difficulties, and supporting their families.

Throughout this course, you will learn how to complete an infant and child mental health assessment and management plan using a specific GP framework.

The course will develop your:

  • knowledge of common mental health conditions among infants and young children
  • engagement skills for interacting with infants/young children and their parents; and
  • practical skills for infant and young child mental health assessment and management.


Infant and early childhood mental health in the context of general practice

This module provides you with foundational knowledge to inform infant and early childhood mental health care within the context of general practice.

A guide for identifying, assessing and supporting infant and early childhood mental health

This module takes you through a step-by-step exploration of the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Guide.

Practice skills for infant and early childhood mental health assessment

This module explores each phase of the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Guide in more detail, with an emphasis on the practice skills required to undertake the assessment.

Managing an infant or child with mental health concerns

This module will provide you with the opportunity to apply your clinical experience and knowledge of the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Guide to a new case study.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • list the key strengths and vulnerabilities that influence infant and early childhood mental health 
  • prioritise the key engagement skills required as part of an infant and early childhood mental health assessment   
  • assess common mental health difficulties in children aged 0-5 years by undertaking a biopsychosocial mental health formulation; and
  • develop a comprehensive management plan related to common early childhood mental health concerns for children under five years.

A guide for infant and early childhood mental health assessment

Consultation guide

This course uses an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Guide to walk you through the key phases and skills required during assessment and management.

The guide outlines four distinct phases:

  1. CONNECT: Listen and prioritise
  2. EXPLORE: Assess and formulate
  3. PLAN: Plan and manage
  4. COLLABORATE: Follow up and review

Recognising context

This course has been specifically designed for GPs. It recognises the realities of general practice, the broad context of doctor-patient relationships, and the array of circumstances that GPs work in.

The course incorporates an understanding of:

  • the important role GPs play in identifying, assessing and supporting infants and young children’s mental health
  • the pressures and complexities that GPs face
  • the Australian Medicare Benefits Schedule, with focus on the Better Access Scheme; and
  • the benefits and challenges of long-term continuity of comprehensive family care.


Core learning

This course will take you approximately six hours to complete, including the written content and all videos. 

Further reading

Additional time can be spent to view the supporting resources included throughout the course.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.


GPs are human. It is important to put boundaries in place to ensure your own safety, and to attend to your own self-care and the care of your family by creating strategies that promote resilience. This will enable you to provide effective, long-term healthcare.

Some essential tools for putting in place strategies for self-care include:

  • being prepared – thinking through the ‘what-ifs’ step by step
  • understanding personal signs of being overwhelmed · setting prompts that will notify you that you need to pull back
  • pre-determining how you will pull back, and how you know you will be okay to re-engage
  • linking into peer supports
  • engaging in, and prescheduling, regular stress-reduction activities
  • seeking opportunities to reflect on your experiences with your professional colleagues.

You will explore specific tips for self-care for yourself later in this course. These are also relevant to your staff and your family.

You can begin the process of self-care as you work through the course by being aware of your emotional responses. Please seek help if needed.

Here are some general tips:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you feel that you don’t need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course, and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course.

If you find you are struggling please seek help. Visit the RACGP mental health resources for GPs, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


For the purpose of this course, the term ‘parent’ encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child, as well as individuals who take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Social and emotional wellbeing’ refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths and is a facet of child development.1

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.2

Social and emotional wellbeing is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.3

Social and emotional development’ involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people
  • manage strong emotions and express them safely
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy; and
  • establish and maintain relationships.4

Infant mental health’ is defined as ‘the developing capacity of the infant and young child (from pregnancy to three years old) to experience, express and regulate emotions; form close and secure relationships; and explore the environment and learn.’ This all occurs in the context of the caregiving environment, which includes family, community and cultural expectations.5

How to update your provider number

To ensure your activity is reported to Medicare, please check that your Medicare Provider Number is up to date in the RACGP database. Find out more here.




  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p.6.
  3. (2020). Understanding mental health and wellbeing. Newcastle: Everymind. Available here.
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.
  5. The Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. (n.d.) Research synthesis: Infant mental health and early care and education providers. Vanderbilt University, United States. Available here.

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