From "Attachment" to mental health and back
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Over the past 70 years, attachment theory and associated research have documented the crucial role of continuity of care and stable caregivers to serve as attachment figures, and this has had a major effect on public mental health policy. Attachment theory has the potential to provide mental health clinicians with a rich model for understanding the development of early human relationships.

Attachment refers to the way in which children learn to use their parents as a so-called safe haven to cope with distress and as a secure base to explore their social and physical environments. Attachment theory can be of clinical significance across several spheres. For example, in the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, understanding attachment and mental health is highly relevant to make sense of how the pandemic influences the lives of families, including expected increases in parent and infant mental health problems and potentially the number of orphans in institutions.

Additionally, for many clinicians working specifically within perinatal mental health, attachment theory is crucial to understand the influence of parents' mental health on the developing attachment relationship. Furthermore, attachment classifications such as disorganised attachment can easily be confused with DSM-5 attachment disorders, and unlike the DSM-5 disorders, attachment classifications do not necessarily indicate neglect or maltreatment, or even parenting difficulties.

In at least two areas of infant health care, attachment theory and research has been enormously influential in changing policy. Firstly, attachment theory has substantially changed the care practices of children admitted to hospital globally through the introduction of rooming-in of parents or carers. Secondly, since research has shown that institutionalised settings for children can be seriously damaging, attachment theory has emphasised the need for family-based care for children who are either orphans or have parents unable to care for them.

Attachment theory is important for understanding the challenge of night-time care of women with severe mental disorders. For these women, sleep is essential to supporting mental health and resilience but can be incompatible with the night-time needs of newborns. In Conclusion attachment theory has an important role in informing assessment and treatment of perinatal mental disorders and promotion of infant mental health.