We are delighted that our film, “Health visiting in your community“, is being used to support the NHS Confederation’s Celebrating Community Services Week.

#CelebratingCommunityServices runs from 16 to 20 October and provides a concerted week-long special focus on community health services – explaining their role, the breadth of what they provide and the impact their services have. Taking place primarily on social media, it will bring services to life and celebrate their successes.

This year’s focus is on children and young people’s services – the breadth of what’s provided in the community, the difference it makes to people’s lives and why it is important to tackle backlogs of care in the community.

We are proud to share our film with NHS Confederation. It showcases the breadth of health visitors’ work and their critical role in supporting the health and wellbeing of thousands and thousands of families every week. So, it is particularly apt for this year’s #CelebratingCommunityServices.

The film captures the voices and stories of parents with a wide variety of different needs – they speak powerfully about the difference that the health visitor’s care and support made to their family when they needed it most. As health visitors often work alone, or in small teams in families’ homes, their work is often hidden and it’s easy to overlook how important it is.
Watch the short film below:

From #TeamiHV, we hope that you have a very Happy Christmas and a bit of a break over the festive season. A big thank you to health visitors and everyone working in health visiting teams for all their hard work this year. Please take special care to look after yourselves, and each other.

We look forward to working with you again in 2023 and send you our very best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

The iHV office will be closed from today and reopens on Tuesday 3 January 2023.

In the meantime, please keep sharing our inspiring film ‘Health visiting in your community’ which showcases the breadth of health visitors’ work and their critical role in supporting the health and wellbeing of thousands and thousands of families every week.

A short new film is launched today: ‘Health visiting in your community’. This inspiring film showcases the breadth of health visitors’ work and their critical role in supporting the health and wellbeing of thousands and thousands of families every week.

View iHV short film: Health visiting in your community

As health visitors often work alone, or in small teams in families’ homes, their work is often hidden and it’s easy to overlook how important it is. The film captures the voices and stories of parents with a wide variety of different needs – they speak powerfully about the difference that the health visitor’s care and support made to their family when they needed it most.

In the UK, health inequalities are widening, and the cost-of-living crisis is pushing more families into poverty; health visitors are needed now, more than ever, to meet the scale of rising need.

The iHV’s film has taken many months to plan and develop – it was created in partnership with parents and frontline health visitors to appeal to parents, health and social care practitioners, government policy makers and commissioners, and to strengthen the case for health visiting by making the work of health visitors more visible.

The film was shot on location in multiple sites across the UK and captures just a small fraction of ‘real life’ for families. It follows health visitors in their working day, visiting babies, young children and families in their own homes and community settings to deliver a diverse range of care and support.

Alison Morton, iHV Executive Director, commented:
“So often we hear that the work of health visitors is not widely understood. Whilst it is impossible to capture the full breadth of the health visitor’s role in just a few minutes, I am delighted that we have been able to shine a light on some of this incredible work in our film today. There are some powerful scenes in the film which captures glimpses of ‘real life’ and parents tell their own stories of the unforgettable difference that their health visitor made – health visitors were there when they needed them most. I am very grateful to the parents who shared their experiences so generously and the health visitors who are all a credit to our wonderful profession.”

Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer England, said:
“This film highlights the important and unique role of health visitors. As specialist community public health nurses, they use their expertise to provide invaluable support to families, babies and children at such a significant time in their lives, while also carrying out crucial work in health promotion and reducing inequalities.”

Professor Mark Radford CBE, Chief Nurse for NHS Health Education England, said:
“This video is a wonderful collection of stories from our fantastic health visitors and the people they are supporting – every day in every community across the country.

“It is heart-warming to hear from the nurses playing such an important role in the health and development of babies and children. The smiles on the faces of the families they help says it all – being a health visitor can be the most rewarding job in the world!”

Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland, said:
“Health visiting in Scotland has rightly had significant investment in the number of health visitors. This was increased by 500 health visitors by the end of 2018. We have had a universal health visiting pathway in place for every family since January 2020. The Health Visitors Universal pathway follows the Getting it Right for Every Child principles, providing child and family-centred care in each unique circumstance.

“Health visitors are uniquely placed to support children and families, improving children’s long term emotional, social and physical development within their family unit which affects their future health, parenting and attainment into adult years. The trusting relationships that health visitors form with families start pre-birth and last until school. Health visitors offer that vital health and social wellbeing support for all families from early pregnancy and through early childhood. Their service improves the health, safety and wellbeing of families every day.”

Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, said:
“I am delighted to support the launch of this inspirational new film which describes the important work of health visitors and their teams. Health visiting provides an expert professional to support every parent and child, providing expert advice, health assessments and information to all new families. The service is key to the delivery of the Healthy Child Wales programme, a universal offer of health contacts for all children in the early years to ultimately ensure they have the best start in life.”

Wendy Nicholson, Deputy Chief Nurse & Head of WHO Collaborating Centre for Public health nursing, Office for Health Improvements and Disparities (OHID), said:
“I am delighted so see this film launched, it shows the breadth and dynamic nature of health visitors. This film highlights the vital role health visitors play in supporting and helping parents to give their child the best start in life. The skill, expertise, compassion and commitment shines through – and the difference for children and parents is a testament to public health nurses.”

David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“We are delighted to support the launch of ‘Health visiting in your community.’ This inspirational film highlights the vital support health visitors provide to babies, parents and families and exemplifies their key role in giving children the best start in life. The impact of this early support cannot be underestimated. It builds resilience, encourages healthy lifestyles and aids social and emotional development to allow children to thrive.”

Claire O’Meara, Head of UK Policy and Advocacy at the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) said:
“Health visiting is the back-bone of early childhood support across the UK, offering a vital safety net for all families. Health visitors are highly trained professionals, there to help parents and carers with everyday challenges of parenting through to addressing complex needs. However, this core service is worryingly over-stretched in England, leading to many babies and their families missing out on this critical support. The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) is calling on the UK Government to commit to a ‘National Baby and Toddler Guarantee’ to ensure every child has access the support they need to give them the best start in life.”

Joe McCulloch, Executive Producer at BBC Education, said:
“This film really helps us to appreciate how vital health visitors are – to babies, to children, to families, to parents, to communities, to the health service. Providing that personal, reassuring expertise is invaluable and long may health visitors continue to play such a pivotal role in so many areas.”

Georgina Mayes, iHV Policy and Quality Lead, and the film’s Executive Producer, said:
“I’m delighted that we are able to launch this fantastic new film which captures how health visitors support families through the unexpected twists and turns of early parenthood. Parenting is hard and nothing completely prepares you for it. Poverty, mental health problems and other worries can make parenting even harder. Small problems can grow into big problems if unaddressed and getting support early from a health visitor can make a big difference. What happens in the earliest years of a child’s life matters, as it is during this time that the foundations for future health and wellbeing are laid. When parents and carers are supported, babies and young children thrive, and then all of society thrives.”

Please share the film far and wide using #HealthVisitorsMatter #CelebratingHealthVisiting

Alongside our main film, ‘Health visiting in your community’, the iHV has also produced a shorter film ‘Voices from practice’. In this 2½ minute film, some of the health visitor ‘stars’ from our main film above share a bit more about why they chose to become a health visitor and what the role means to them.


The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), working together with parents and Solent NHS Trust, is delighted to share a short film to highlight the value and breadth of the role of the health visitor in relation to family mental health and wellbeing outcomes.

Produced as part of the Interreg 2Seas PATH project*, the film raises the profile of the universal UK health visiting programme, where every family has access to a highly skilled and well-trained health visitor. It showcases the unique opportunity and skills that health visitors have to build relationships and the support that health visitors can offer where additional concerns about parental mental health or the parent-infant relationship are identified.

Created to appeal to parents, health and social care practitioners, government policymakers and commissioners, the film offers insights into a ‘day in the life’ of a UK health visitor, demonstrating the impact of open, trusting relationships and highlighting the importance of continuity of health visitor in building a sense of partnership with parents and families.

Melita Graham, Head of Mental Health at the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“Supporting the emotional and social, as well as the physical health and wellbeing of the whole family during the perinatal period is a priority for all UK health visitors. We hope that this film will raise awareness of the potential that health visiting has for improving every family’s health and wellbeing.

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Whalebone Films, Solent NHS Trust and particularly the parents and families involved in supporting the creation of this film.”

Claire Robinson, Clinical Director for Child and Family Services, Solent NHS Trust, said:

“We are so pleased to be involved in this film which importantly showcases the breadth of skill and knowledge that our health visitors like Sema use every day, in a personalised way for parents and families in our communities. We are really proud of the profound and positive impact that health visitors make in supporting parents and their children in a variety of ways including physical health, early attachment and development, mental health and wellbeing, and practical aspects of parenting, whilst creating meaningful relationships that are so important to both our service and service users.”


The film is relevant for health visitors across the UK, and you can use it to promote the work that you do – so please do use and share it.


* PATH – PerinAtal menTal Health – is part of the Interreg VA 2Seas programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The iHV is one of several partner organisations from across the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium working together to enable women, families, and healthcare professionals to prevent, recognise and successfully manage mild and moderate perinatal mental illness.

PATH seeks to promote positive parenting experiences and empower parents to feel confident in accessing self-help, professional support and guidance from employers, leading to happier and healthier families. Find out more about PATH: https://path-perinatal.eu/uk/ 

Irene’s Ghost is an award winning feature documentary about a son’s search for information about his mother he never knew. The birth of his own child inspires a journey to discover the truth about Irene, who passed away when he was a child. Piecing together fragments of the past to make sense of the present he uncovers a long held secret. Using animation mixed with filmed footage Irene’s Ghost movingly rebuilds a lost life.

It’s an emotional detective story revolving around a family secret, which opens up into a study of memory, mental health, identity and the bonds of love and friendship.

Irene’s Ghost launched in UK cinemas with a Q and A tour from 3 May 2019.

Vicky Gilroy, Projects and Evaluation Lead, Institute of Health Visiting, attended the screening launch this week and said:

The film is so moving and conveyed some really important messages about Iain’s journey to discover what had really happened to his mother. The sensitive, but also human, approach he took to the film I feel helped it to speak and connect to the audience, showing the reality of living with the impact of maternal mental health for Iain and his family. The film raises the significant and enduring stigma of mental health in society and how he connects with his past and father were beautifully portrayed. The importance of creating understanding and support for families is emphasised. Personally I would encourage wider showings of the film as it has relevance to society as a whole.

The Q&A session was emotional, hearing the lived experience of a mother who has had post-partum psychosis gave further impact and relevance to the illness Irene had experienced many years ago.

The film has just been awarded Best Feature Documentary at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, and is being screened there today, 4 May 2019, in Glasgow at the GFT: GFT Tickets. The festival has just published a Q&A with Iain, that you may be interested in reading. https://www.mhfestival.com/news/15-interview/483-iain-cunningham-q-and-a

Check www.irenesghost.com/screenings for tickets and new screenings

The iHV has been delighted to work with Victoria Macdonald, Health and Social Care Correspondent at Channel 4 News, to make a short film on the complex role of the health visitor in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) and how the recent cuts to the public health budgets are impacting on the mental health care from health visitors that families may receive. The film is due to be broadcast on Channel 4 news this evening (Wed 4 April) between 7pm and 8pm. 

Update 5/4/18: Link to the film has been added at the bottom of this news story.

Melita Walker, iHV, being interviewed by Victoria Macdonald from Channel 4 news

Victoria has worked for almost 20 years with Channel 4 and is a fantastic advocate for the mental health of women and their families. We are very grateful for her commitment to improving perinatal and infant mental health and look forward to her opening the iHV’s first national multi-agency PIMH Conference (24 April in Manchester) to talk about her experiences of the hidden challenges in PIMH.

Time to develop quality relationships between health visitors and parents is key to public acceptability and effectiveness for promoting sensitive and responsive parenting and to parents disclosing emotional vulnerability when experiencing mental distress. Health visiting services should be staffed and organised in order to facilitate this (Cowley, et al., 2013).

The iHV would like to sincerely thank the team at Channel 4 News and all those who have been involved in supporting the making of this feature – in particular, City Health Care Partnership (CHCP) in Hull, CHCP health visitors Rebecca Price, Debbie Jackson, Fiona Nevet and Shirley Simpson who were absolutely fantastic and kindly gave up their time to support the filming in Hull. Also Mark Edwards, health visitor and Mental Health Advisor, University of Central Lancashire. Mostly, of course, our thanks go to the mums and their families who, in the hope of improving care for families and raising parity of esteem for mental health in the perinatal period, shared their own personal experiences on camera – Jane, Heidi and Dana, we really can’t thank you enough!


Shirley Simpson being interviewed by Victoria Macdonald from Channel 4 news

Hannah Bissett, Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), commented:

“As the national charity for women and families affected by Postpartum Psychosis, we are excited to hear about the iHV feature on Channel 4 this evening with Victoria Macdonald, including our volunteer Jane. Through our partnership with the iHV, Jane and other volunteers have shared their experiences of postpartum psychosis during iHV’s Perinatal Champions training to add the voice of lived experience to this vital area”.

From left: Shirley Simpson, Rebecca Price, Melita Walker and Victoria Macdonald

From left: Shirley Simpson, Rebecca Price, Melita Walker and Victoria Macdonald

Update 5/4/18:

The new “Eating Disorders in Pregnancy” animation launched this week (during Eating Disorders week).

iHV has worked with the Greater Manchester and North West Coast iHV PIMH Champions Forum, the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London and others to develop the research base for eating disorders in the perinatal period. Eating Disorders are a serious mental illness, characterised by disturbance of eating that significantly impairs health and psychosocial functioning.

Eating disorders affect approximately 7.5% of pregnant women and can impact on maternal and infant outcomes. Researchers at King’s College London have translated research on eating disorders during pregnancy and motherhood into practical training resources to help healthcare professionals provide the best care for pregnant women and mothers.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“It’s been a real pleasure for the Institute and its Perinatal and Infant  Mental Health Champions to work with the Institute of Psychiatry team to help them undertake this research and produce this superb new resource. We hope that it will be disseminated and used widely to raise awareness of eating disorders amongst all health professionals working with women in the perinatal period.”

Follow the twitter chat at #EDandPregnancy and follow on twitter at @EDandPregnancy


iHV invites you to watch a short maternal mental health film and make a REAL difference to people’s lives all in less than 5 minutes …..

Best Beginnings’ powerful film “My Mental Health Matters” has been nominated for a Charity Film Award. The winner is chosen by PUBLIC VOTE and voting closes on Wednesday 30 November.  We would like to help Best Beginnings to win – and invite you to help too!

In 3 simple steps, you can help encourage THOUSANDS of people to watch this important film and increase Best Beginnings’ chances of winning.

Here’s what we’d love you to do:

  1. Watch the film
  2. VOTE
  3. Forward the link to your friends and family and ask them to vote too!

Whether you are young or old, have kids or not, have experienced mental health challenges or not, you can be part of the incredible group of people who are showing the world that maternal mental health matters.

Together we ARE making a difference for future generations.

New programme reinforces the importance of the profession in the face of government cuts

The vital role that health visitors play in children’s health outcomes has been reinforced by a news-style report programme.

The programme was developed by the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) in collaboration with a partnership between the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and ITN Productions.

It details the breadth of challenges health visitors respond to and the skill required to do so. These include supporting families facing issues ranging from poverty and housing to domestic violence and postnatal depression. Health visitors’ key role is to ensure every child receives the best possible start in life.

Introduced by national newsreader, Natasha Kaplinsky, the programme forms part of ‘The Public’s Health Across The Life Course’ series, coordinated by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and produced by ITN Productions. The series brings to life the journey from cradle to grave and the key public health professionals who make a difference in that period.

The iHV’s programme’s release comes at a crucial time. Health visiting numbers have fallen significantly in England in the last two years, as a result of cuts to public health budgets. This has triggered a restructuring of children’s services by local authorities.

iHV’s executive director, Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, said:

“Through making this programme, we want to raise awareness of the consequences of the on-going cuts to health visitor numbers in England – and the impact on children and families. Health visitors are a critical cog in each child’s journey to adulthood and work to improve public health outcomes for all children, helping to reduce health inequalities across the UK.

“The iHV was delighted to work with the Royal Society of Public Health and ITN Productions partnership to produce such an important programme which visually demonstrates the vital role and impact of health visitors.”

She added:

“Children’s needs seem to have become invisible among the many competing demands being made on the government and the NHS. We want ministers and commissioners to understand that we cannot afford not to invest in our children’s health. They are our future!

“I want to thank Whittington Health and Haringey Children’s Community Service for their support in making this film and all the health visitors and parents who made it possible.”