Please note: The Infant and Early Child Mental Health program is not accepting applications at this time. For more information, please contact the Academic Program Manager. Thank you.


Combine theoretical and practical knowledge, skills, and judgment to contribute to positive mental health when working with infants, children, families, or in community settings. This Ontario Graduate Certificate program is designed for front line service providers or recent graduates of programs such as early childhood education, child and youth worker, health practitioners, community and social service workers, and recreational therapists working with infants, children, and families who wish to obtain a specialization in mental health.

The program provides students with applied courses in infant and children's mental health, family dynamics, community mental health, therapeutic approaches, and crisis intervention in addition to exploring prevention, detection, and supportive programming for infants, children and their families. Students are also exposed to the practical applications of current research in the field of infant mental health and develop an understanding of risk and protective factors, and early intervention applications.

Career Opportunities

This Ontario Graduate Certificate in infant and children's mental health will increase knowledge and skill for those wanting to work with vulnerable young children and their families. Depending on your prior diploma training, you will be further qualified to work in settings such as child protection agencies, early intervention teams, hospitals and clinics, family support agencies, child welfare, education, and settlement programs.

Entry Requirements

Diploma or degree in a related field (ECE, CYW, SSW, etc.) plus a minimum of six months work experience in a field related to early childhood development.

To apply to the IMH program please submit your resume and transcripts (or Seneca student ID#) to directly to Dedra Profitt, Academic Program Manager at Dedra.Profitt@senecacollege.ca.

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Foundations of Mental Health Practice

This is an introductory course that familiarizes students with the concepts related to mental health with a particular focus on the unique needs of infants, young children and their families. The course will provide an overview of when and how mental health begins to form and how it can be derailed or promoted. Through discussions and case studies, students will be introduced to strategies and tools for recognizing when a young child's mental health may be at risk. The core concepts of attachment, regulation and resilience as foundational developmental constructs will be examined. Finally, the course will explore a variety of mental health promotion, poor mental health prevention and intervention modalities. These modalities can be used by practitioners in a variety of roles and settings using an interdisciplinary model. In order to facilitate the development of practical skills, course materials will be presented utilizing a variety of active learning modes including case studies and role-playing.

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Dynamics of the Family

This course will address family dynamics from a systematic and developmental viewpoint. Students will become familiar with systems and ecological theory, family structures and development, families in transition, history and cultural diversity. This will support the student's personal and professional awareness of the potential impact of family history and culture on future relationships. As systems are explored, students reflect on how they can create a more responsive and inclusive response to challenges families with young children may experience. How does a young child's social history within the family and the community influence their development, in particular early mental health? How does a caregiver's mental health influence a young child's development? How do these early and pivotal relationships promote or derail physical and mental health in the short and the long term? Such questions will be discussed and answered through presentations, group discussions and case study.

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Integrating Attachment and Brain Development

Students will examine how attachment affects development, what effect caregiving has on attachment and how early attachments affect relationships in later life. Students will investigate the ways the brain functions, grows and responds to environmental factors. Students will examine the link between early adversity, brain development, and gene expression with the goal of leveraging the science of brain development to support the mental health of infants, young children and their families. The connection between attachment and brain development will be explored.

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Human Development

This course is an in-depth study of growth, development and learning of the child from conception through toddlerhood. This course examines diverse theories of development and engages students in discussion of the principles and tenets of those theories. Close attention is paid to those areas of development that support the positive mental health outcomes of infants.

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Children with Diverse Abilities

This course provides students with an overview of children's diverse abilities, with a focus on developmental differences. Students will learn differentiated and universal strategies to support children and families with a wide range of exceptionalities. The course will focus on supporting families to develop positive mental health for themselves and their infants.

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Understanding and Responding to the Challenging Behaviour of Young Children

Students will analyze the multiple roles of the professional practitioner in understanding and responding to the behaviour of young children. Students will reflect on the historical, philosophical, social and scientific foundation of the field and explain the influence of current thought and practice. Students will also develop the inter-professional communication skills necessary to work in a collaborative practice involving educators, early learning and care practitioners, social workers and policy makers. Topics will include the significant role of attachment, the impact of trauma, social history and its influence on development, and strategies that equip the practitioner to learn and respond to the child's behavior in the "moment" and over the long term using a variety of strategies.

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Health Promotion and Education

This course covers the underlying concepts, principles, historical development, theory, and current practice of health promotion with a unique focus on early mental health and how it connects to later physical and mental health outcomes. Strategies for both health promotion and education among caregivers and allied professionals such as those in the health, education and social services will be examined. The course will begin by exploring different models and views of health to support the evaluation of health information specific to young children. Discussion about broader societal issues such as exposure to adversity early in life will occur throughout the course. The course is organized around an ecological framework with consideration of theory and practice at the individual, group, community, organization, and policy levels, with a focus on infant and early mental health. Students will analyze and critique the conceptual, ideological, and political issues which underlie health promotion practice.

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Advanced Practice in Infant and Early Child Mental Health

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Screening and Assessment: Infants, Young Children and Families

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Promoting Resilience in Infants and Young Children Impacted by Stress and Trauma

Throughout this course, students will learn the causes and impacts of stress and trauma, with a specific focus on infants, young children and their families. Acute, chronic and multigenerational sources of stress and trauma will be explored. Existing support systems and health promotion initiatives will be discussed, with a focus developing support plans for families dealing with trauma, stress and violence.

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Field Placement IMH

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OSAP Funding Available

This program is eligible for OSAP funding.

Course load is used by OSAP to determine funding options for programs.

If you are taking 1 - 2 courses at the same time, you may be considered for part-time student grants and loans.

  • 1 course (20%)
  • 2 courses (40%)

If you are taking 3 or more courses at the same time, you may be considered for full-time student grants and loans.

  • 3 courses (60%)
  • 4 courses (80%)
  • 5 courses (100%)

To find out if you qualify and to learn how to apply, please visit the OSAP website.

For information on other awards and financial assistance, please see Financial Aid.

Credit for Prior Learning

Prior Learning Assessment

Earn college credits for what you already know!
Prior Learning Assessment is a method of assessing and recognizing learning that is equal to college level learning, but has been gained outside a traditional classroom (through work experience, volunteering, outside study, etc.). If you can prove that the knowledge you have gained meets the outcomes of a Seneca course, then credit will be awarded.

How does the PLA process work?
Prior Learning is demonstrated through a "challenge" process. The process measures learning through a variety of methods which may include tests, portfolio assessment, interviews, demonstrations, essays, and work samples. The method used will be determined in consultation with a Program Coordinator.
For more information and to determine if you are eligible for PLA, please call the Program Coordinator.

The process may take from 6 to 8 weeks.

Note: Not all courses can be challenged. For more information go to PLA website or contact your Program Coordinator.

Transfer Credit

Transfer Credit (Advanced Standing)

Many students who enter Seneca College will have earned academic credits in post-secondary educational institutions which they may be able to apply toward completion of a Seneca College program.

Requests for Transfer Credit must be for a specific course and must be accompanied by an official transcript and course outline. A minimum grade of "C" (60 percent) is generally required for a course to be considered for Transfer Credit.

Download a Transfer Credit Request form. An official copy of your transcript and applicable detailed course outlines should be attached and submitted. Please note it may take 4 to 6 weeks for a Transfer Credit decision.

More Information

Please visit the Degree and Credit Transfer Office.


When you meet all program requirements and become eligible for a certificate, diploma, or degree, you must inform the Registrar by completing a Graduation Application form and paying the graduation and alumni fee. Certificates, diplomas, and applied degrees are issued twice a year in the Fall (October) and Spring (June).

For further information including deadlines and fees, please visit the  Convocation website or contact the Convocation Office at 416-491-5050 ext. 77461.

Minimum Performance for Graduation

Students will only be eligible to graduate with a Seneca College certificate or diploma if they have maintained an overall good standing in their current program of study. Students in degree programs will be eligible to graduate when they have obtained an average of C (2.5 GPA) in courses in the main field of study, and an average of C (2.0 GPA) in all other courses.

Program Contacts

Contact us via this form or using the phone number(s) below it.

Georgina Ioannou
Program Assistant

416-491-5050 ext.22946

Dedra Profitt
Academic Program Manager

416-491-5050 ext.22528