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Halton Integrated Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service – #IMHAW17 winners

18th June 2017

iHV Fellow, Nicola Monaghan, is delighted to share details of the Halton Integrated Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service  which won the ‘Locality award for mental health inclusion’ at the recent Infant Mental Health Awards held to celebrate Infant Mental Health Awareness week (#IMHAW17).

Halton Integrated Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service won the 'Locality award for mental health inclusion' at the Infant Mental Health Awards

Halton Integrated Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service won the ‘Locality award for mental health inclusion’ at the Infant Mental Health Awards

Halton Integrated Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Service won the ‘Locality award for mental health inclusion’ at the PIPUK (Parent Infant Partnership) Infant Mental Health awards (#IMHAW17). The award was for the collaborative work that has taken place through the Halton Health in the Early years group, on perinatal mental health, preparation for parenthood, and bonding and attachment.

Halton Healthy Early Years group

The ‘Halton Healthy Early Years group’ is the main driver in developing the integrated approach to parent and infant mental health in Halton. The multi-agency group brings partners together to work collaboratively to achieve a consistent preventative approach in the delivery of services to families.

Child development is one of five overarching priorities of the Halton Health and Wellbeing board. The drive to give every child in Halton the best start in life stems from a strong evidence base and clear senior support. The emotional health and wellbeing of the family and the impact this has on bonding and attachment is a critical component of this work.

Maternal mental health

Mental health problems for mothers during pregnancy and the first year of their child’s life are one of the most common complications of pregnancy affecting between 15-20% of women. Depression and anxiety is the most common mental health problem during pregnancy, 12% of women experiencing anxiety and 13% experiencing depression, at some point, with many women experiencing both.  The effects of depression on the mother, her infant and her family are well documented. Mothers with postnatal depression are likely to experience difficulties in relating to and caring for their babies.

Early intervention

Early intervention at this stage of the child’s development relating to perinatal mental health, bonding and attachment is essential to break the cycle of poverty, so enhancing life chances and reduce health inequalities for children and their families. Parent Relationships and early attachments are crucial to young children’s ability to learn and develop cognitive, emotional and social capacity. It is in the interest of both child and society for attachment problems to be identified as early as possible.

It is early days for the development of the perinatal  and infant mental health work, but the pathway has been transformed from 18 months ago. There is a greater availability of support to parents, and staff from across the children’s workforce have greater skills and knowledge on mental health. In Halton, we have a truly integrated approach where agencies work together to deliver a range of programmes.

What we offer in Halton:

  • A draft integrated parent and infant mental health pathway has been developed.
  • Midwifery Early Bird booking system
  • Enhanced antenatal offer Transition to parenthood “your baby and you”
  • Nurturing the needs of you and your baby
  • Infant feeding, UNICEF accreditation level 3
  • Getting it right for you and your baby
  • Giving birth and meeting your baby
  • Multi-agency training for Solihull approach for a range of staff.
  • Midwives trained in Infant Mental Health
  • Triple P Parenting Programmes
  • Incredible Years Baby groups
  • Bespoke training for Children Centre staff is being developed on infant mental health/bonding and attachment
  • Brazleton System
  • Newborn behaviour observations (NBO). 20 Health visitors were trained to facilitate NBO at the Newbaby Review. All health visitors are to be trained by December 2017
  • Newborn behaviour assessment scale. 3 Health visitors and a psychotherapist have been trained and working towards accreditation.
  • Family Nurse Partnership knowledge and skills exchange
  • Service Directory on parent and infant mental health is being developed.
  • Baby and Infant Bonding (BIBS) Bonding and attachment Service has been piloted from the middle of January until mid-April with 2 part-time psychotherapists (0.8 WTE), providing up to 8 sessions in parent infant psychotherapy and or Video interactive guidance. This has been developed with Warrington Borough and has been evaluated with a view to being commissioned by the CCGs.
  • Children’s Centres in Halton have a very strong offer to deliver Universal and appropriate targeted services to help, support and guide parents, families and young children. Experienced early years practitioners work together with early help services to provide a range of activities, groups and 1-1 home visiting giving families the right support at the right time. These includes infant massage groups or 1-1, infant feeding support, early learning and play services, First time families, advice and guidance with support for work, adult learning, Support with practical parenting and behaviour management.
  • Parents in mind is a peer-support service that is being developed by the Department of Health and NCT to support women with mild to moderate anxiety and depression
  • Development of a perinatal mental health leaflet
  • Getting it right for you and your baby. All parents are provided with information on accessing this information via you tube. This provides parents with information on transition to parenthood and baby states
  • Building happy babies leaflet has been discussed and provided to parents at the Health Visitor antenatal or new baby review.
  • Health visitor supervision from Psychotherapist
  • Pilot area for the Baby Box scheme

Partners involved in this integrated parent and infant pathways are:

  • Halton LA, including Children’s Centres, health improvement team, public health
  • Halton CCG
  • Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust–Midwives, Health Visitors, FNP, Clinical Specialist Perinatal and Infant Mental Health who provides expert advice, training, audit and the development of pathways, clinical guidance and services.
  • NCT and the DH.
  • Northwest Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust


Nicola Monaghan FiHV, Clinical Specialist Perinatal and Infant Mental Health, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust


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