Image shown: Musician Jonathan Wilson plays while babies engage with artist Niamh O’Connor’s installation at Helium’s Jazz Lounge at Baby Cafe

Helium Arts in partnership with HSE Cork North, NUI Galway School of Psychology, NUI Galway Drama and Theatre Studies, and The Irish Association of Infant Mental Health announce the launch of a new research partnership which will aim to reveal whether there are connections between early experiences of the performing arts (dance/music/theatre/clowning/puppetry etc.) and developing positive attachments and interactions between parents and babies.

The research will begin with commissioning a Literature Review on the subject completed by a graduate psychologist with outcomes expected for early-2015.

The Literature Review will establish an evidence base from existing published research and ascertain the state of the art and any gaps for further development. In particular, the research will explore any relationships between the performing arts and the principles of positive Infant Mental Health.

Infant Mental Health Practice raises awareness about the social and emotional development of babies and toddlers and the importance of early caregiving relationships including the role of families, community and culture. Compelling research is now available to demonstrate that infancy is a critical period for psycho-social development and that positive experiences within baby’s first years of life can have lasting benefits across the lifespan. Irish Association of Infant Mental Health

In October 2014, Helium will publicise a call-out for a psychology research assistant to complete the review. Early expressions of interest are welcome at

About the partners

HSE Cork North Primary Care Child & Family Psychology Services – Mallow Primary Care Centre

The service offers Triaging, Consultation, Assessment, Diagnosis & Formulation, and Therapeutic Intervention for a wide range of mild to moderate social and emotional problems that occur from infancy up to the adolescent years. Infant Mental Health (IMH) is a core component of the model of service delivery and is fully integrated into the service provision that is provided to infant toddlers and their caregivers. Since 2004, HSE Cork North Child and Family Psychology has been a leader in the development and establishment of infant mental health both at local and national levels. IMH education and training is provided locally through an interdisciplinary training model. This has led to the national development of Infant Mental Health Network Groups as a means to building and consolidating workforce capacity across all disciplines who work with the early years.

NUI Galway School of Psychology

The School is dynamic, innovative and internationally recognised for its teaching, research, service to students and contribution to the wider community. Strengths of the School include the suite of professionally accredited undergraduate and postgraduate programmes on offer. The programme provides MSc programmes in Health Psychology and Applied Behavioural Analysis and a range of PhD programmes and a Doctor of Psychological Science in Clinical Psychology, all of which host a vibrant community of doctoral students. There are four thematic research clusters within the School: Clinical Behavioural and Biological Psychology; Developmental and Social Psychology; Perception Cognition and Action; Psychology and Health, all of which enable fruitful collaborations for research grants, advance of knowledge and publications.

NUI Galway Drama and Theatre Studies

NUI Galway is the leading international centre for the study of Irish theatre and offers students and researchers exciting opportunities to learn from excellent lecturers and leading theatre practitioners. We offer a range of courses in the area of drama and theatre at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. We have particular expertise in Irish theatre, theatre archives, playwriting, and much more.

Helium Arts

Helium is an arts and health non-profit organisation aiming to improve the quality of life for children 0-18 yrs living with chronic illness or at risk of illness in Ireland through award-winning, age appropriate, participatory arts programmes and performances which strengthen young voices & create supportive healthcare environments, upholding children’s rights. We work in hospitals, health centres, & community settings transforming young lives & their carers through art, ingenuity & play. Since 2009, over 3500 children & their families across 11 counties have benefited from Helium’s work which addresses issues from the mental health of babies & their parents to social isolation among teens. We are further developing our Early Years programme to explore the intersection between the process/practice of the performing arts and the science of infant attachment. Information on our past Early Years work can be found here:

Irish Association of Infant Mental Health

Affiliated with the World Association for Infant Mental Health, IAIMH is a non profit national organisation of professionals from a range of disciplines, who work with infants, toddlers and their families. IAIMH’s mission is to raise awareness about the social and emotional development of babies and toddlers and the importance of early caregiving relationships including the role of families, community and culture. It also supports education, training, research, clinical practice and policy development in the area of infant mental health.


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