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VAIMH Monthly Newsletter (3.20.2024)

Dear Members,

To honor Women's History Month, we're not just celebrating the strides and achievements of women throughout history, but also the profound impact they've had on shaping our present and future. This March, let's spotlight not only the trailblazers who've shattered glass ceilings but also the countless women who've dedicated themselves to nurturing young minds and fostering healthy beginnings.

Women play a pivotal role in infant and early childhood mental health. Their nurturing presence, guidance, and support are foundational to the emotional well-being and development of our youngest generation. Whether as mothers, caregivers, educators, or mental health professionals, women contribute immensely to creating environments where children can thrive emotionally, socially, and cognitively.

In celebrating Women's History Month, let's uplift the stories of women who've dedicated their lives to nurturing the next generation. Let's amplify the voices of those who advocate for accessible and equitable mental health support for children and families worldwide. Here's to the women who've shaped history, and to those who continue to nurture the minds and futures of generations to come. Your dedication, compassion, and resilience inspire us all.

-Dr. Anjali Ferguson

Executive Director


VAIMH Town Hall - 3/25/2024

Join us for VAIMH's First Virtual Town Hall

3:00 - 4:30 PM

You are invited to participate in our upcoming Virtual Town Hall, where we will come together to engage in open and honest dialogue about pressing issues surrounding race and ageism. In our rapidly changing world, it's essential that we create spaces for meaningful conversations that address the challenges and complexities faced by individuals of all backgrounds. This Town Hall will provide an opportunity for us to share our concerns, process our experiences, and collectively explore ways to promote understanding, equity, and inclusion within our community. Your voice matters, and we invite you to join us in shaping a future that is grounded in empathy, respect, and solidarity. Let's come together to listen, learn, and support one another as we work towards a more just and equitable society. We look forward to your participation in this important conversation.

-VAIMH Executive Board


Member Spotlight

Tanya Coles

I'm Tanya Coles and I serve as the Family Services Supervisor to 4 Family Services Specialists for the Healthy Families/Parents As Teachers program in Hampton. My career in Human Services spans 14+ years, working in Virginia's Community College System, the Public School System, Mental Health, and Home Visiting. I hold a Bachelor's in History and another in Psychology with a specialization in Christian Counseling, a Master's in History and another in Human Services Counseling with a specialization in Marriage and Family. I often ponder about my career trajectory and how it all connects together and in comes Infant Mental Health! My education, career path and my endorsement as an Infant Family Specialist/Endorsed Reflective Supervisor has helped me to understand the power of relationships. When healthy relationships are present, the restoration and healing that can take place is transformative, for children and adults! I take this foundation to work with me as I interact with colleagues and staff and I apply this principle when I am reflecting on my work and interactions with families.

At the core of History, Psychology, and Human Services are relationships. So, I've been standing on this principle throughout my career-understanding the relationships of the past, can inform the relationships of the present, and strengthen the relationships of the future. Becoming endorsed helped me to understand what Infant Mental Health entails and has lifted it's importance in the larger discussion of mental health. The endorsement has developed me into a more intentional servant leader as I engage the team and families I serve. It has built and strengthened my reflective capacity and gifted me with a well-round view of those I serve. The endorsement has also partnered me with amazing professionals in the field as we all work towards a common ground-helping children and families. 


Science Spotlight

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on infant development and maternal mental health in the first 2 years of life

We investigated how exogenous variation in exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic during the first year of life is related to infant development, maternal mental health, and perceived stress…We found no association between duration of pandemic exposure in the first year of life and infant socioemotional problems, infant language development, or maternal mental health and perceived stress symptoms, at 12 or 24 months…These findings suggest cautious optimism for infants raised during this period.

Intergenerational risk and resilience pathways from discrimination and acculturative stress to infant mental health

Preconception and prenatal stress impact fetal and infant development, and women of color are disproportionately exposed to sociocultural stressors like discrimination and acculturative stress. However, few studies examine links between mothers’ exposure to these stressors and offspring mental health, or possible mitigating factors. Using linear regression, we tested associations between prenatally assessed maternal acculturative stress and discrimination on infant negative emotionality among 113 Latinx/Hispanic, Asian American, Black, and Multiethnic mothers and their children.


Self-Care Through Play

Time for us to practice what we preach! It is easy to ignore our own needs in the context of busy lives, work, and our own parenting demands. We can't pour from an empty cup, so here are some ways to tap into our inner child this month as a way to take care of ourselves while we tackle this necessary and challenging work.

March Tip: Reflect on Herstory

Engage in a creative self-care activity that reflects on women's and feminine history can be a deeply enriching experience. Here's a suggestion for an expressive and introspective endeavor:

Herstory Collage and Affirmation Art

Materials Needed:

  • Magazines, newspapers, or printed images

  • Scissors

  • Glue or adhesive

  • Large piece of paper or canvas

  • Markers, pens, or colored pencils

  1. Gather Your Materials: Begin by collecting magazines, newspapers, or printed images that feature representations of women throughout history. Look for images that resonate with you personally or symbolize important aspects of women's experiences and achievements.

  2. Reflect on Herstory: Take some time to reflect on the diverse experiences and contributions of women throughout history. Consider the challenges they've faced, the victories they've won, and the qualities that embody feminine strength and resilience.

  3. Create Your Collage: Cut out images that capture your attention and arrange them on your large piece of paper or canvas. Allow yourself to be intuitive and spontaneous in your choices, selecting images that evoke emotions or tell a story about women's history.

  4. Add Affirmations and Quotes: As you create your collage, incorporate affirmations, quotes, or words of empowerment that resonate with you. Write these directly onto your collage using markers, pens, or colored pencils. Choose phrases that uplift and inspire you, celebrating the strength and resilience of women everywhere.

  5. Embrace Creativity: Don't be afraid to experiment with different layouts, colors, and textures as you work on your collage. Allow your creativity to flow freely, trusting your instincts and intuition to guide you in creating a meaningful and visually captivating composition.

  6. Reflect and Contemplate: Once your collage is complete, take a step back and spend some time contemplating the images and words you've chosen. Reflect on the stories they tell and the emotions they evoke within you. Consider how these representations of women's history resonate with your own experiences and identity.


Upcoming Trainings and News

The Virginia Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative is excited to announce that registration for our virtual annual conference is live!

This year our conference theme is Compassionate Leadership-Leading From Where You Are. Join us May 14-16 from 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM EST.

All sessions are recorded and will have American Sign Language interpretation. Please see our attached flyer for more information and to learn about our keynote presenters. Please share this with your networks!

Registration link:


Copyright (C) 2024 VAIMH.  All rights reserved.

PO Box 3151

Glen Allen, VA 23058

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