Supporting Early Childhood Mental Health


A student playing a board game with two young childrenThe first course in this program, HDFS 510, is a foundations course that prepares professionals from multiple disciplines to support the social, emotional, and mental health needs of young children and their families in a variety of settings. This course uses an interdisciplinary lens to examine the social and emotional development of children ages birth to 5 years within the interrelated contexts of family and culture. The full continuum of services and supports (i.e., promotion, prevention, and treatment) necessary to promote healthy development, prevent mental health problems, and treat mental health disorders will be examined. 

In partnership with South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association, one goal of this course is to provide information to students before they enter the workforce and better support them as infant mental health-informed professionals by creating a baseline of infant mental health knowledge.

Students who earn a C or better will receive the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Foundations Certificate from the South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association. 

In READ 590, students develop knowledge of children’s literature from the early 20th century to the present. Additionally, they examine the values, attitudes, beliefs, and habits that define the nature of quality of life. When reading children’s literature, students explore how the field of children’s literature represents characters with a variety of mental health issues or illnesses. Using a variety critical thinking and problem-solving skills, students will evaluate the literature using some of the following questions: 

  • Who is represented? Do these representations perpetuate or disrupt typical patterns? 
  • How stereotypical are characters, behaviors, and situations? 
  • How does the author’s background, lived experiences, and/or research situation them to write this book?
  • Does the story present complexity that accurately portrays life? 

Required Courses and Dates

Course Credits Dates
HDFS 510 - Introduction to Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
*$20.00 lab fee for certification
3 Summer Session A: May 13 - May 31, 2024
READ 590 - Children's Literature 3 Summer Session K: June 24 - August 2, 2024


Intended For

All future professionals who will be working with or on behalf of children 0-5 and their families can benefit from this course, including students majoring in:

  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • English
  • Mass Communication
  • Psychology
  • Political Science
  • Education

What You'll Learn

  • Reflective Practice 
  • Problem Solving
  • Family Outreach  
  • Critical Thinking 
  • Decision making
  • Data Analysis

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