The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance have, today, launched a new briefing exploring the mental health experiences of young mums.

Findings from a rapid review of the literature and focus groups with young mums from across the UK show that young mums aged 16-25 are at higher risk of experiencing mental health problems during pregnancy and after birth and face significant barriers in accessing support. Where they do access support, experiences of services can be poor.

Based on feedback received from young mothers, this briefing identifies 4 priority areas for action:

  1. Listen and respond to the needs of young mothers in national and local systems
  2. Resource and invest in universal and preventative services
  3. Ensure access to specialist mental health services
  4. Research and listen to the voices of young mums

An infographic depicting a ‘Dream City of Support’ informed by focus group discussions with young mums identifies health visitors as part of a range of services they would like to see in place. The briefing highlights the skilled, preventative work that health visitors offer and aligns with existing evidence that health visitors, when adequately resourced and trained, can provide clinically and cost-effective perinatal mental health care. However, the drastic reduction in the health visitor workforce over recent years means urgent action is needed to ensure that all families, and particularly those facing multiple disadvantage, are able to quickly access the right support.

Hilda Beauchamp, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Lead at iHV, said:

“We welcome this timely report highlighting areas for action to improve services for young mums. We know that young mums are so much more likely to experience shame, stigma and judgment and that this can significantly impact their mental health. The rise in teenage maternal suicide rates highlighted in the recent MBRRACE report was sobering.

“At the iHV, we are fully supportive of the coalition’s recommendation to conduct an in-depth review of the circumstances surrounding these deaths. Currently health visitor records are not routinely examined as part of the Confidential Enquiry review process. Health visitors are the only health professionals that proactively and systematically reach all families with babies and young children throughout the perinatal period, including young mums. We would recommend consideration of the contribution that health visitors can make to the MBRRACE process to fully understand where change can be made in the provision of services across the whole pathway of care.”

Becoming a parent is challenging at any age, but many young mums experience additional difficulties such as experiences of care, isolation and loneliness, housing difficulties, poverty and employment discrimination, that contribute to poor mental health. Learning from best practice examples of holistic support for young mums across the UK is included in this briefing, adding weight to the recommendations for further work and research, including action required in the devolved nations.

The iHV fully supports the report’s concluding statement that:

For too long, young mums’ needs and views have been ignored. It is time their experiences were listened to, and their needs centred in the planning of perinatal mental health support.

Mental health problems during pregnancy or after giving birth are common. There can be poor long-term outcomes for parents and families without timely access to effective support and treatment. The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) has today, launched a briefing to support Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in England to make the most of their unique position, to ensure that all families who need support for their mental health in the perinatal period get the right level of help, at the right time, close to home.

Integrated care boards and partnerships have a statutory role in population health management. They bring together the NHS, local government, public services and civil society organisations, to explore how to improve health, reduce health inequalities and use public money wisely in the local context. Addressing mental health and wellbeing needs in the perinatal period provides ICSs with a unique opportunity to take a systemic approach in establishing good building blocks for health, for future generations.

The MMHA commissioned the Centre for Mental Health to produce a briefing to support ICSs to consider how best support can be offered. This builds on earlier work co-produced by the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) and The MMHA to guide system’s thinking on perinatal mental health and how best practice can be further embedded (read our previous news story on this here).

The briefing encourages proactive leadership within the ICS system to ensure effective support for groups of women whose needs are less well met by existing services, including those from racialised communities, asylum seekers and refugees, single mothers, young mothers, those living in poverty or experiencing domestic abuse, LGBTQ+ parents, neurodiverse and disabled people, those who are care-experienced and those experiencing multiple adversities such as addiction, homelessness and exploitation.

Key areas for action are identified including, for universal services, the recommendation for midwives, GPs, and health visitors to ask about a woman’s mental health at all routine antenatal and postnatal appointments, as per national guidelines. Previous evidence supporting integrated mental health care with maternity and health visiting services, as both clinically effective and cost-effective, is highlighted. This proposed integrated service provision model would offer the following key support elements:

  • Screening: Asking every woman in a skilled way about their mental health to identify need
  • Assessment: Assessing the severity of women’s mental health needs and planning the most appropriate treatment in partnership with the individual
  • Treatment: Offering low-intensity treatments for common mental health problems
  • Coordination: Ensuring women receive ‘joined-up’ care and subsequent care and support as needed.

Hilda Beauchamp, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Lead at iHV says:

“This important briefing highlights the unique opportunities that Integrated Care Boards and partnerships have to develop the universal workforce. When health visiting, maternity and GP services are adequately trained and resourced, families can be offered early, effective tailored support that can prevent problems developing or worsening.”

Further actions are included specific to NHS talking therapies, Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services, Inpatient Services and Voluntary and Community Sector Support.

The briefing will be shared with all ICSs and we encourage you to draw attention to the publication through your local contacts and communications.


iHV and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) are proud to share a new resource and accompanying evidence to support high-quality Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) Care.

The Institute has worked closely with the MMHA for many years to bring about positive change for the mental health and wellbeing of families and there have been huge strides made, but there is still some way to go:

  • At least 1 in 5 women experience a PMH problem, making mental illness the most common serious health problem that a woman might experience in the perinatal period.
  • Suicide is still the leading cause of death for women when looking across the perinatal period.
  • The 2022 MBRRACE report again highlighted gaps in mortality rates between women from deprived and affluent areas, women of different ages, and women from different ethnic groups.
  • Evidence continues to show that people, who identify as LGBTQI+, experience prejudice and discrimination generally and within healthcare services which can lead to worse physical and mental health in the perinatal period.

This latest project brought us together to think about how we can support developing PMH systems across all four nations. The changing landscape of how care is accessed and delivered offers an opportunity for systems to come together to support inclusive high quality family mental health care and this is what led to the latest collaboration between the iHV and MMHA.  It has led to the iHV undertaking an evidence review, which we feel will be incredibly useful for families, practitioners and services.

The Evidence Review, conducted by the iHV, is is a comprehensive desktop review that brings together key publications, policy guidance, toolkits, research, and reports of families’ and practitioners’ lived experiences. The focus of the review is “what does high-quality perinatal mental health care look like?” for women, birthing people and their families. Key themes and principles emerging from the evidence review are captured in the related resource:

Supporting High-Quality Perinatal Mental Health Care is the new resource drawn from the Evidence Review. It provides a strengths-based action template to enable and inform high-quality care for families impacted by PMH problems – enabling individuals to come together and plan “what good looks like” for them, as practitioners, services, professions, organisations, pathways, networks, and systems. This new resource highlights:

  1. Why improving PMH care is crucial
  2. What good care looks like to both practitioners and families with lived experience
  3. 10 principles of best practice

Karen Middleton, Head of Campaigns and Policy, MMHA, says:

“The iHV’s literature review has been incredibly helpful to understand the wealth of information out there on maternal mental health and what action is still needed to ensure high-quality care is available to all who need it. During the review, several recurring themes quickly emerged as well as clear opportunities for learning across the system, as highlighted in the final resource.

“In recent years, there has been a welcome increase in the understanding of the impact of maternal mental health problems. However, many still face huge barriers to accessing essential care. I hope this work will encourage local systems to have collaborative conversations and help them continue to develop services that provide high-quality maternal mental health support for women and birthing people, babies, and families across the UK.”

 Melita Graham, Head of Mental Health, iHV, says:

“Family mental health and wellbeing is complex and, whilst individuals, different professions and services can, and do, make a huge difference – we know that by joining the junctions and pulling together we can achieve so much more. Working closely with the Alliance I have seen the power of collective effort and the positive differences this has made. This latest project aims to support all parts of the PMH system to come together, to think together and to act together – we know that when people with a common interest come together, great things can happen!

“The Institute is committed to promoting family mental health and wellbeing, addressing inequalities and driving change. Alongside the MMHA and other partners, we won’t stop until every family, has access to high quality mental health care in the perinatal period. We very much hope that these new resources will enable high quality perinatal mental care irrespective of where a family may live in the UK.”

Luciana Berger was unanimously voted in as the new Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) at last week’s extraordinary members’ meeting. Luciana takes over the role as Chair from Dr Alain Gregoire on 1 October 2020.

Luciana Berger

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, commented:

“This is a fabulous appointment for the MMHA and excellent news for all mums and their babies, wherever they live in the UK. Dr Alain Gregoire’s are ‘very big boots to fill’ but we feel very confident that Luciana will do that, bringing her own slant to chairing the MMHA. Very many congratulations Luciana, we very much look forward to working with you to together improve mental health services across the UK for all mums and their families.”

Other MMHA senior role updates on 1 October

Dr Alain Gregoire takes on the new role as Honorary President of the MMHA when he steps down as Chair.

Also, on the 1 October, Emily Slater’s title will change from MMHA Director to CEO. This follows an independent review of MMHA’s management structure and reflects the Board’s expectations of the role as the MMHA has evolved in the last two years.

We are delighted to announce that this year’s iHV Perinatal & Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Conference will be held in collaboration with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA). Taking place on Tuesday 10 September in London, it will focus on the importance of good relationships in perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) care.

Melita Walker, Mental Health Lead, iHV said:

“In the spirit of relationships, we are delighted to be collaborating with the MMHA to deliver the annual iHV PIMH Conference; Relationships Matter! We have a fantastic programme and we look forward to welcoming delegates to think together about the importance of relationships at every level of PIMH care.”

Together, we will share, discuss and reflect on the latest evidence, research and lived experiences in the context of relationships being fundamental to good parental and infant mental health.

The conference programme is designed to be of value to practitioners working alongside families across the care pathway, those working specifically in mental health, commissioners, local authorities and parents.

Clare Dolman, Vice Chair of the MMHA commented:

“We are delighted to collaborate with iHV on their second annual PIMH conference and look forward to welcoming delegates, hearing from those with experience of PIMH care and discussing opportunities to improve relationships and access to specialist services.”

Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the MMHA, will be discussing the importance of relationships in relation to policy, campaigning, practice and experience of PIMH care. There will also be a panel discussion with experts by experience hosted by MMHA’s Champion Network Manager, Maria Bavetta, about how good relationships with care providers can make a real difference to the lives of women and families.

*Early bird rates are available until 7th July 2019, after which standard rates will apply.*



The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) is delighted to receive national recognition for its Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions Training Programme in the first ever perinatal mental health awards, organised by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) and Mums and Babies in Mind (MABIM).

The iHV’s Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions Training Programme was highly commended in the Emma Cadywould Award for Perinatal Mental Health Education and Training 2017. The awards, which were announced on Wednesday 13 September at the first Annual UK Maternal Mental Health Alliance Conference at Imperial College, London, recognised best practice and achievement in the categories of perinatal mental health education and training, perinatal mental health awareness raising, peer support and transgenerational service.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“The Institute of Health Visiting is proud to receive this prestigious training award which was set up in the name of Emma Cadywould, who tragically lost her life whilst suffering severe postnatal depression.

“Our comprehensive, accredited training, which now reflects the national competencies for perinatal and infant mental health, has been developed over the past five years and consistently attracts wonderful evaluations.

“We have recently extended our training offers to be suitable for all professionals working with women with perinatal mental illness.  This has been in response to many requests for multi-professional training from the health, local authority and voluntary sectors. Our current Champions Training ensures that all practitioners working alongside women and their families perinatally are equipped to provide evidence-based and confident support – as of June 2017, we have created over 140 Multi-agency Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions, as well as almost 900 health visitor Infant and Perinatal Mental Health Champions whose originally training we know has been cascaded to upwards of 10,000 others.

“This award is a massive credit to the Institute’s team who have worked so hard to develop, refine, deliver and quality assure, and most recently to benchmark our training to the new national standards.”

The winners were presented with their awards by acclaimed author, journalist and psychotherapist Susie Orbach.

Find out more about the iHV’s Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions Training Programme

At the start of UK Maternal Mental Health (MMH) week (1-7 May), the iHV is delighted to announce that we are working with Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), a national charity supporting women and families affected by Postpartum Psychosis (PP).

In order to ensure that future mental health care of women is what women want/need, we ensure that the APP voice is central to our training. Women, who are experts by experience from APP, deliver on the iHV Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) programmes so all the health and social care professionals we train understand what they need to do to best support women and their families.

The death of Alice Gibson-Watt has lessons for us all and, as part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, both the iHV and APP are committed to improving outcomes for women and their families. Key to this is learning from experts by experience and their families. The iHV was delighted to hear Hannah Bisset (APP Northern Regional Representative) raising parity of esteem for mental health through sharing her story on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday. Listen to her from minute 32.45 here.

Women with mental health problems during and after pregnancy reveal the impact of low rates of specialist referral, long waits, as well as lack of consensus over medication and little support for their partners, in a survey published today (22 February) by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and supported by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA).

The survey of over 2,300 women who had given birth in the last five years in the UK, explores their experiences of perinatal mental health problems, engagement with healthcare professionals and the quality of care they received.

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

“The Institute of Health Visiting, a member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, welcomes the results of the ‘Women’s Voices’ survey run by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and launched today.

“This survey gives real life evidence on the level of support that women receive when suffering from perinatal mental illness (PMI) – and the variation there is in the level of services across the country.  Health visitors are key healthcare professionals who are well-placed to identify and offer support to women suffering with PMI.  However, our own surveys have shown that, although parents will turn to their health visitor for support,  there is often insufficient time for the health visitor to offer the level of support required.

“We, at the iHV, deliver perinatal mental health (PMH) and infant mental health training to ensure standardised practice for health visitor professionals and the families they work with.  Our PMH training has now been delivered to well over 10,000 health visitors and others across England. However, for this training to have the impact it should, more health visitors need the time to use what they have learnt to improve services, especially at the recommended contacts.

“Perinatal mental health is an incredibly important area of healthcare which can have a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of babies and families and ultimately on our society when we don’t recognise it early. Health visitors have always made a huge contribution to supporting pre-school children and their families and are the best-placed professional to help give all children the best start in life during the early years of life.”

The iHV supports the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s (MMHA’s) response to yesterday’s publication of the Department of Health report ‘Safer Maternity Care: Next steps towards the national maternity ambition’.

MMHA highlights the mention of perinatal mental health in the report (on page 17) – but would really like to push for mums’ mental health to be embedded across all of the actions coming out of the report. Maternity safety is not just physical health: unless women’s mental health is looked after, their and their babies’ lives could also be at risk.

Dr Cheryll Adams, Executive Director iHV said:

“iHV supports the push by MMHA to keep maternal mental health at the forefront of the government’s drive to improve maternity care.  We welcome the implementation of this plan, including maternal mental health, and call on the government to ensure that specialist mental health support is available in every maternity /health visiting service to provide support to every mother and her family who require this service.”

Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, commented:

“We welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State of a Safer Maternity Care action plan and the inclusion of improvements in perinatal mental health care in this. Mental illnesses are the most common serious health complications of pregnancy and the postnatal period, and a major cause of maternal death. There has been no sign of improvement in the effects of these illnesses on mothers and their babies in the past decades, despite significant improvements in physical health outcomes.”


As a partner and a member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) operations group, the iHV is delighted to share this good news.

Launch of independent evaluation of Everyone’s Business Campaign

Today, Tuesday 19 July, sees the launch of the independent evaluation of the MMHA Everyone’s Business Campaign.

This evaluation highlights the substantial impact the campaign has had; the reasons for the impact, and where the campaign will need to focus in the future.

Please find below the direct links to the Briefing Paper (just two pages) and the full report:

Please use #everyonesbusiness when mentioning in social media!

MMHA Everyone’s Business Funding announcement

Also, hot off the press, fantastic news! Comic Relief confirmed that the follow-up funding for the MMHA and the Everyone’s Business Campaign has been secured! See below:

A grant of £750,000 has been secured from Comic Relief.  This is intended to:

The grant will continue to be hosted by Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) on behalf of the MMHA

MMHA says:

a huge thank you for all your on-going support – the outcomes of the evaluation and further funding is a reflection of how well the alliance has worked collectively.