The iHV welcomes the important findings of the latest report, ‘Bringing Baby Home’ published by the Fatherhood Institute for Fathers’ Day and Infant Mental Health Awareness Week. The report is based on the findings of a systematic scoping review of the UK literature on UK fathers in their baby’s first year after the birth. The report presents findings on men’s adjustment to fatherhood; relationship with their partner; associations of ‘father-factors’ with mother wellbeing and child outcomes; engagement with services; and related policies in the four countries of the UK.

The Fatherhood Institute’s hard-hitting conclusion is that NHS maternity, health visiting and other family services are failing babies by ignoring their fathers during the first postnatal year. It finds that even without the additional challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, services are often not set up to engage with, assess and support new fathers. This is despite clear evidence that fathers’ physical and mental health has a significant impact on babies’ future health and wellbeing, on key maternal outcomes and that the perinatal period can be a ‘golden moment’ for encouraging better health behaviours among fathers.

Alison Morton, iHV Executive Director, says:

“Health Visitors know and understand the important role that fathers play in family life and the health and wellbeing of all family members – they wholeheartedly agree with the premise of this report and want to be enabled to deliver father-inclusive services. The report’s hard-hitting findings make difficult reading, with stories of families being let down – but they point yet again to the need to address the root cause of this problem. If things are to change, we need to address the systemic and structural challenges that are hampering efforts to deliver father-inclusive services. We also cannot ignore the ‘elephant in the room’ – we need more health visitors – we have a national shortage of around 5,000 health visitors and this results in less time being available to provide families with the support they need, and families are facing the brunt of this with a postcode lottery of support.

“This report provides clear evidence that this needs to change and that investing in father-inclusive care and early help makes sound economic sense. At the iHV we have great examples of where health visiting services have developed father-inclusive services, we have also trained health visitor ‘Father Champions’, but more needs to be done. We agree with the report’s authors that ‘father-inclusive care’ should be the norm and not the exception.”

The report’s authors make four key recommendations for how services could be improved:

  1. Fathers’ names, contact details and NHS numbers should be entered onto NHS birth notifications so that fathers can be contacted directly by services. As is the case for mothers, the father’s NHS number would link to his medical record for use by practitioners and for research purposes, within a framework of data protection law and ethical guidelines.
  2. All tax-funded services and interventions for families in the perinatal period – including those commissioned by central government (e.g. the Reducing Parental Conflict programme and Family Hubs) should be commissioned, designed, delivered, promoted and evaluated in ways that recognise fathers’ own need for support (whether or not they share a household with the child’s mother) and their impact on children and mothers. Practitioners should use evidence-based strategies to achieve high levels of father-inclusion, and should follow (and where relevant be inspected against) key guidance. The Fatherhood Institute is working with the Royal College of Midwives to produce a father-engagement toolkit, to be published in October 2022.
  3. The government should fund, pilot and evaluate a scalable, locality-wide approach to embedding father-inclusive practice across a whole network of perinatal services in a number of local areas.
  4. Given the unavailability of parental leave to the vast majority of UK fathers, and the huge significance of fathers’ participation in solo parental care in baby’s first year for later care patterns, the government should pilot new approaches to leave taking, focused on different groups of working fathers, including those who are employed, self-employed and working in the ‘gig economy’. Ways in which employers do or could support fathers should be included in the pilot.

Adrienne Burgess, Head of Research at the Fatherhood Institute, who co-authored the report, said:

“We ourselves were stunned, when we pulled this research together, to discover the extent to which infant and child outcomes (and outcomes for mothers, too) are impacted by fathers’ behaviour and characteristics in the first few months after the birth. It is also deeply disappointing to discover that no systematic support is offered to new fathers by NHS providers – no recognition of their role, or even, sometimes, their existence.”

At the Institute of Health Visiting, we are keen to be part of the solution – we have been working with the EU PATH Partnership and Dad Matters UK to produce a suite of new resources for healthcare professionals on father-inclusive services.

Look out for our blog on ‘All things Dad’ on Friday 17 June which launches these resources and sets out the work that we are leading to support ‘father-inclusive’ services.







Calling all iHV members – if you missed our iHV Insights webinar on “Raising awareness of the importance of fathers and partners” held last week (Thursday 19  August), then don’t worry as the resources from this iHV Insights, as well as the previous ones, are available to iHV members to access as a free member benefit afterwards.

Last Thursday, we were joined by our fabulous panel of speakers:

  • Maggie Fisher, Professional Development Officer, Institute of Health Visiting
  • Kieran Anders, Operations Manager, Dad Matters UK
  • Cara White and Karen Hughes, SCPHN Students, University of Greenwich

Click on the link below to catch up on iHV Insights Raising awareness of the importance of fathers and partners, as well as previous iHV Insights sessions:

Next iHV Insights

Date for your diary – iHV Insights webinar: “Breastfeeding” – 28 October 2021.

Further details,  including speakers and how to book, coming soon!


Innovative resources to support perinatal mental health (PMH) ‘by parents and professionals – for parents and professionals’

On International Fathers’ Mental Health Day (#DadsMHday), the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), in partnership with Dr Ranjana Das and Dr Paul Hodkinson from the University of Surrey, is delighted to announce the launch of three new ‘Factographics’ interactive resources – designed to better support the mental health of new mothers and fathers.

Mental health problems in the time around having a baby are common and, left untreated, can have significant short- and long-term impact for all members of the family. Identifying problems early and offering the right support and treatment maximises the opportunity for good outcomes for the whole family. The new resources, based on research findings by Dr Das and Dr Hodkinson on new parents’ mental health, were developed in partnership with the iHV, parents and professionals, who worked together to translate the findings into meaningful sustainable resources that can be used by parents and professionals at every local level.

The three new interactive Factographics resources to support perinatal mental health are oriented to groups or areas where we know there are unique unmet needs – namely, new fathers, mothers from British South Asian communities, and parents who had a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melita Walker, Mental Health Lead at the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“These fabulous Factographics are produced in an innovative format that is engaging to all users, and are co-produced ‘by parents and healthcare professionals for use by parents and healthcare professionals’. They highlight some of the barriers to engagement, share stories and media clips about individual experiences, and provide links to organisations and helplines. Factographics strengthen relationships between parents and professionals, they bust myths and stigma and, most importantly, they let parents know that they are not alone and that there is help – they offer parents a sense of hope.”

Dr Ranjana Das and Dr Paul Hodkinson at the University of Surrey, said:

“Though it can often be a time of joy, becoming a new parent can be immensely challenging. We are delighted to see our research findings around unmet mental health needs become a tangible, concrete resource for people to use. This collaboration has brought to life the experiences and stories we have heard in our research, in a way that will benefit new parents and professionals going forward. For more information on our project do look at our website .”

Funded by an Impact Acceleration Award from the Economic and Social Research Council at the University of Surrey, the Factographics resources are in an innovative format that is engaging and useful to all – whether academics, commissioners, parents or healthcare professionals. Digitalised so they can work as a living sustainable resource – they are a national template created for local implementation. Available in web, mobile and PDF versions, they can be accessed directly by parents or shared by healthcare professionals and will be ideal for use in local public health campaigns.

Links to Factographics:

New dad? You’re not alone…Factographic

A baby is a blessing so why do I feel this way? – Factographic

New parent during the pandemic? Factographic


This training has been rescheduled from Thursday 29 April to Tuesday 22 June.

We are delighted this event on Tuesday 22 June 2021 will be co-delivered by Kieran Anders – Project Manager of Dad Matters and a nationally respected voice in this important area of mental health.

Our Multi-Agency Perinatal Mental Health & Fathers Champion Training Programme is designed to improve family mental health by:

  • increasing competence and confidence in perinatal mental health practice, working with a whole family-inclusive approach
  • developing place-based leadership for fathers/partners mental health issues in the perinatal period
  • raising awareness of the significance of fathers/partners wellbeing for the whole family with the workforce

The new online delivery format models our highly acclaimed face-to-face programme for PIMH and will equip Champions with the necessary understanding, knowledge and competence to lead on fathers’ perinatal mental health in their local areas.

New Date: Tuesday 22 June 2021, 9:00am – 4:15pm

  • £225 – iHV Member (membership number required for booking)
  • £250 – Non-member

We are delighted to share updated Parent Tips for fathers to mark International Father’s Mental Health Day (22 June):



Fathers are important and good mental health is important for fathers, their partners, and their children. Close involvement of fathers from birth supports positive family/couple relationships and fathers have an important role to play in child development. Men go through many complex changes when they become a father which can make the perinatal period (from conception to one year after the birth of a baby) a particularly vulnerable time in a man’s life.


The period from conception to the age of 2 is an important time for child development and experiences during this time can influence the rest of a child’s life. Relationships between dads and their children matter from day 1.






These Parent Tips join our suite of resources for parents to find expert advice on key areas of looking after your new baby from when they are born to when they go to school. Written by experts in the field, they cover topics such as feeding, health, behaviour and development, and are based on up-to-date research and the experience and knowledge of real-life health visitors working across the UK.


iHV is delighted to share updated Good Practice Points (providing up-to-date evidence and references for our members) in support of our multi-agency Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Conference taking place tomorrow, Tuesday 10 September in London.

Perinatal and Infant Mental Health: Relationships Matter! Conference is being held in collaboration with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance. If you were not able to get a ticket before they sold out, please do follow the day’s conference proceedings on the hashtag #iHVPIMH19 on Twitter!

Printed copied of these updated Good Practice Points (GPPs) will be available to conference delegate members tomorrow – so do pop along to our Training & Resources stand to pick up your copy.

Electronic versions of these updated documents are available to our members on the links below – do remember to sign in to access them:

Please note that GPPs are available to iHV members only.

If you’re not a member, please join us to get access to all of our resources.

The iHV is a self-funding charity – we can only be successful in our mission to strengthen health visiting practice if the health visiting profession and its supporters join us on our journey. We rely on our membership to develop new resources for our members.

So do join us now!

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On International Fathers’ Mental Health Day (#DadsMHDay) 2019, we are delighted that one of our iHV Fellows, Sharin Baldwin, presented at the Talking Dads conference in Blackpool today – organised by the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development.

Sharin Baldwin RN, RM, RHV, QN, FiHV, iHV Research Champion, BSc (Hons), PG Dip, MSc, NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow, King’s College London Clinical Academic Lead, Nursing and Midwifery, London North West University Healthcare Trust

The Talking Dads Conference brought together a national audience of fellow practitioners, academics and volunteers to discuss the importance of Dads in early years, with leading national experts, including Sharin, in the field of early child development providing a national and international perspective on the innovative work surrounding the role of Dads, and that of men’s mental health and wellbeing.

Updated resource

In addition on #DadsMHDay, we are pleased to share updated resources from Sharin for health visitors:

UPDATED GPP – Understanding father’s mental health & wellbeing during their transition to fatherhood

These updated GPPs set out what health visitors need to know about Understanding  Fathers’ Mental Health & Wellbeing during their transition to parenthood. As part of every contact, HVs should routinely enquire about fathers’ mental health and wellbeing, and offer appropriate support and advice to fathers, as well as mothers.

They provide updated evidence and references.

iHV PIMH Conference – Perinatal and Infant Mental Health: Relationships Matter!

Why not join us at our forthcoming annual Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Conference where we are delighted to announce that Sharin will be speaking.

Perinatal and Infant Mental Health: Relationships Matter! is being held on 10 September in London – bookings are now open and we do expect tickets to go quickly – our last two conferences have been sold out!

About Sharin

Sharin is a trained nurse, midwife and health visitor. She is a keen advocate for health visiting and her research interest is Mental Health and Wellbeing of Fathers, an area that is fairly neglected. She is currently undertaking a PhD in this area ( at King’s College London and is the first health visitor to be awarded a Clinical Doctoral Fellowship by NIHR.

Sharin also works as Clinical Academic Lead in London North West Healthcare Trust. She is a Queen’s Nurse, Fellow of the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), iHV Perinatal Mental Health Champion and Health Visitor Research Champion. She has co-authored a book chapter titled ‘Working in Diverse Communities’ in a health visiting text book. Sharin has published several research papers in reputable professional journals and is a peer reviewer for the International Journal of Nursing Studies, Primary Health Care Research and Development, Midwifery and the Institute of Health Visiting. Sharin is also on the editorial board for the Journal of Health Visiting.

iHV Fellow, Sharin Baldwin, publishes Systematic Review on First Time Fathers’ Mental Health and Wellbeing and accompanying editorial on the importance of men’s mental health to coincide with International Men’s Day (19 November) – a worldwide celebration of the positive value that men bring to the world, their families and communities.

They both are open access publications.

Sharin Baldwin

Sharin Baldwin

 Systematic Review on First Time Fathers’ Mental Health and Wellbeing

The findings from the systematic review on first time fathers’ mental health and wellbeing  revealed that fathers wanted:

  • More guidance and support to prepare them for parenthood, specifically to better prepare them for subsequent relationship changes with their partner
  • Access to tailored information and to be equally included in consultations and contacts with relevant health professionals.

The synthesis of the international evidence has important implications for healthcare professionals working with families in the early years, with particular reference to the need to consider the mental health and wellbeing of mothers and fathers. The review also highlighted that healthcare professionals need a greater understanding of the dilemmas and challenges that new fathers face to better support their mental health and wellbeing during this crucial transitional period.

Evidence from our systematic review adds further support for an urgent review of how we plan, provide and resource maternity and early years services, in order to recognise the impact that pregnancy and birth may have on a father’s mental health, as well as the essential role fathers play in supporting their partner and infant. If the aim of health research is to improve outcomes through the implementation of evidence and use of evidence-based practices, we should ask ourselves why barriers persist to address and recognise paternal mental health needs. Now is the time to use this evidence to change practice towards supporting both parents and provide more equitable care and use of resources.

Editorial piece on the importance of men’s mental health

Further information

For further information on Sharin’s research, please see her study website.

Sharin Baldwin RN, RM, RHV, QN, FiHV, HV Research Champion, BSc (Hons), PG Dip, MSc

NIHR Clinical Doctoral Fellow, King’s College London

Clinical Academic for Community Nursing, London North West University Healthcare Trust

“Who’s the bloke in the room?” a report published by the Fatherhood Institute and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, details how expectant fathers in Britain are key influences on maternal and infant health and wellbeing, including on pregnant women’s smoking, diet, physical activity and mental health, and on children’s later adjustment.

The Fatherhood Institute’s report, Who’s the bloke in the room? recommends a more family-centred service that enrols expectant fathers in maternity services from ‘booking in’, records and responds to their health needs and behaviours, and which trains maternity staff to engage with them. The Fatherhood Institute calls on the NHS to include expectant and new fathers at all stages and inform them as thoroughly as it currently informs pregnant women and new mothers.

You can access the full Who’s the bloke in the room? report (and others in the series) here


The iHV is committed to raising awareness of Fathers’ mental health – and we want to share a short survey from the Fatherhood Institute and Fathers’ Network Scotland .

The survey asks first-time fathers about their recent (within 5 years) experiences of maternity services in Britain. We think this is an important issue and hope you can spare five minutes to fill it out yourself (if you are eligible) or share it among friends, family and work colleagues.

So far 750 fathers have already shared their experiences in the survey – it would be great to get more feedback for them – so please do share the survey link.

The closing date is 31 May, and the results will be published in time for Father’s Day on 17 June 2018.

As part of the highly acclaimed iHV Perinatal and Infant Mental Health training offers, the iHV has a one-day Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health Champion training programme for all health and social care professionals

For further information please contact [email protected]