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Enhancing Infant Mental Health Using a Capacity-Building Model: A Case Study of a Process Evaluation of the Ready, Steady, Grow Initiative

O'Farrelly, Christine PhD; Lovett, Judy PhD; Guerin, Suzanne PhD; Doyle, Orla PhD; Victory, Gerard DClinPsych

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000100
Original Research/Study
ISEI Article

Infant mental health (IMH) is best promoted through a continuum of services underpinned by strong service capacity. However, service providers often lack fundamental IMH knowledge and skills. Using the Ready, Steady, Grow (RSG) initiative as a case study of a capacity-building model (P., Hawe, L., King, M., Noort, C., Jordens, & B., Llyod, 2000), this article contributes to the field by investigating the facilitators and challenges to IMH promotion in a disadvantaged community in Ireland. A mixed-methods study assessed the degree to which RSG has developed the local service community capacity. Data included semistructured interviews (n = 23) and a survey with service stakeholders from nursing, speech and language, early childhood care and education, social work, family support, physiotherapy, and youth work (n = 40). The findings indicated that RSG has enhanced IMH capacity among service stakeholders by establishing a strong groundwork and enthusiasm for IMH, in addition to building preliminary IMH skills, although scope remains for further engagement and training. Ongoing barriers to capacity building include a dearth of resources and concern about sustainability. This case study offers theoretical and practical insights to those interested in promoting child health using a capacity-building model.

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Centre for Psychiatry, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom (Dr O'Farrelly); UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy (Drs Lovett and Doyle), UCD School of Psychology (Dr Guerin), and UCD School of Economics (Dr Doyle), University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland; and School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom (Dr Victory).

Correspondence: Suzanne Guerin, PhD, UCD School of Psychology, Newman Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland (

The authors thank youngballymun who provided funding for the Ready, Steady, Grow evaluation through the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and The Atlantic Philanthropies. The authors are also grateful to all those who participated and supported this research, especially the participating community stakeholders, the RSG intervention staff, and the Expert Advisory Committee. They also thank the Early Childhood Research Team at the UCD Geary Institute for their feedback on previous drafts of this article.

The authors were independent from the funders and initiative developers. The evaluation was funded by youngballymun through The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Youngballymun were involved in the identification of the target samples and in the recruitment process; however, they had no involvement in the analysis or the interpretation of the data, in the writing of the paper, or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

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