iHV welcomes the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA)’s latest briefing on specialist perinatal mental health (PMH) community services in the UK which highlights the significant progress made in all four nations since 2013. The latest MMHA maps offer a snapshot of the state of UK specialist PMH care in 2023 and evidences significant ongoing workforce challenges and the postcode lottery that families face in accessing specialist PMH care.

Though the progress is fantastic, the updated maps in the report show that inequalities continue – access to life-saving mental healthcare for pregnant women and new mothers remains inequitable, with many regions still lacking the necessary resources. Mental health-related deaths during pregnancy or up to six weeks after birth are increasing – and it is particularly significant to health visitors that even more women died in the period between six weeks and a year after the end of pregnancy – emphasising the urgency of addressing this issue.

The previous PMH maps, shared as part of the “Everyone’s Business Campaign”, mapped services against the quality standards created by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Quality Network and led to a collective ambition to “#TurnTheMapGreen”.  Since then, there has been rapid expansion and much needed progress in specialist PMH services across the UK. As a result of the pandemic, cost-of-living crisis, widening inequalities and global instability, there has been major challenge to family mental health and wellbeing, and need has soared. These new updated maps are intended to ensure progress in specialist PMH provision is sustained and progressed.

Alongside updating the maps, the MMHA also conducted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to gain better understanding of funding for specialist PMH community services across the UK and to picture how services in England are meeting the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan for PMH. The FOI found that, although 89% of the 70 areas that responded had seen their budget increase from 2020/1 to 2022/3, 66% indicated there would be an underspend for 2022/3. Workforce-related issues were the most frequently cited reason for underspending (58% of respondents), but many teams provided evidence indicating this was due to unclear or late budget allocation, with no guarantee of continuation. This is inevitably resulting in women, babies, and families not receiving the care they need.

The most recent iHV annual survey also confirmed that families are facing a postcode lottery in universal services. This new briefing by the MMHA makes a clear statement on the importance of joined up integrated care across the system to address these inequities in service provision and focus efforts on addressing the stark health inequalities, particularly for black and brown women and those living with severe and multiple disadvantage.

The MMHA briefing acknowledges that health visiting is an essential part of the PMH system and that specialist PMH teams alone cannot meet the needs of most families, who in the main, will be seen and cared for in universal services. The briefing calls for proper resourcing for all the essential services needed to deliver high-quality care.

Melita Graham, iHV Head of Mental Health, said:

“At the moment, too many families are still facing a postcode lottery and not receiving the care that they need as services struggle to prevent and identify cases of perinatal mental illness and facilitate and offer treatment to meet the scale of need. The role of health visitors needs to be maximised as an important part of the solution. When adequately resourced, health visitors can make a significant contribution to the timely identification of perinatal mental health problems and risks in the community, as well as reducing the burden on primary care and specialist teams through their work in prevention and early intervention.

“Strong local leadership is important for maximising the HV contribution and to join the junctions between services. Specialist Health Visitors in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health are therefore a crucial element of an integrated PIMH care system. Through their leadership role, they have the potential to drive clinically and cost-effective high-quality evidence-based PIMH care across the whole system. As part of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, the Institute was delighted to share our own maps of such a vital part of the system in our latest report: Specialist Health Visitors in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health: where they are and what they’re doing.”

All families want and deserve high-quality and joined up care for their mental health. The latest MMHA maps offer key stakeholders good intelligence on their relative performance and provide a sound base for services and systems to build and progress from. It is crucial that momentum is maintained and Government commitments to improving specialist PMH are fulfilled. The iHV is committed to continue working alongside the MMHA to make sure that there is a confident, well-equipped system delivering excellent, compassionate, safe care for all families across all four nations of the UK.

3 ways to help #TurnTheMapGreen 

  1. Download and share MMHA maps with your networks
  2. Tweet about the maps using #TurnTheMapGreen
  3. Talk about the maps with those in a position to help change them

Let’s end the postcode lottery, together! 

Next week, 3-9 May, sees the UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week taking place.

Organised by Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP), the Awareness week is a weeklong campaign dedicated to talking about mental illness while pregnant or after having a baby.

The theme for this year’s Awareness Week is ‘Journeys to Recovery’.  Over the last year, the ways in which services have changed to be delivered in alternative ways, due to COVID-19, has shown that the approach to recovery has been individual. So this Week is to highlight how to seek support for mums and families during this unusual time, alongside detailing the different ways in which recovery can take place.

The Week’s activities

Launch Day Photo: For the first time ever, PMHP is asking people if they would feel comfortable to share a photograph of what has helped or is helping their recovery.

  • Many people will not want to show their face on social media and that is okay – your photo could be your journal notes, a craft you have made, some crotchet, a song, your medication, details of your therapy. You might even want to post of picture of your shoes or climbing boots to signify your journey to recovery. Whatever you feel.
  • If you are a healthcare professional or support mums and families in the perinatal period and want to get involved, we would love to see photos of how you do this!
  • You can post these photos on Monday 3 May, which is the first day of the campaign or post them at any point in the week, using the hashtag #myjourneytorecovery
  • PMHP will collate the photos into a lovely series of collages of hope.

Themed days: Each day next week has a theme, and each has its own unique hashtag.

  • Monday 3 May – The focus of the first day of the campaign is ‘What is Maternal Mental Health’?
    • Hashtag for the day is #pmhpwhatismaternalmh
  • Tuesday 4 May – The focus is on what good support looks like and the theme for the day will be ‘Reaching out for Support’.
    • Support can be wide ranging from advice and help from healthcare professionals, medication, therapy, help from the voluntary sector and safe peer support.
    • Charities, local peer support groups and services are encouraged to share their details on social media so families know what support is available across the UK. This could include details of the service, contact information, the areas they cover, information on safeguarding policies, training and supervision they have in place for staff and volunteers.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpreachingoutforsupport
  • Wednesday 5 May – This is World Maternal Mental Health Day, and also the day of the iHV PIMH Conference #iHVPIMH2021
    • The theme for the day is the ‘Global Perinatal Positivity Pot’ focusing on how we work together to remove barriers to services so all families who need services can access them and share resources from across the world.
    • Hashtag for the day is #pmhpglobalppp
  • Thursday 6 May – The focus is on what support is available for friends and family of those who are experiencing maternal mental illness.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhplookingafteryouandyours
  • Friday 7 May – The theme is ‘Your Journeys to Recovery’ – this will look at recovery and how it can look different for each person but with the message that it can and does happen.
    • You are encouraged to  the share articles, blogs and vlogs about recovery, looking ahead to the future and self-care.
    • Hashtag for the day is #pmhpyourjourneystorecovery
  • Saturday 8 May – The focus is Paternal Mental Health
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhppaternalmh
  • Sunday 9 May – PMHP will be posting highlights from the week.

Use the #journeystorecovery #maternalmhmatters hashtag on social media when referring to the week and the daily specific hashtags if relating to the daily theme.

On Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day (6 May), the NSPCC highlights rising concern that many new parents may be ‘suffering in silence’ during lockdown.

The Institute was pleased to support an NSPCC virtual roundtable looking at the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on new mothers’ mental health, and the risk of potential long-term consequences on babies’ health and development. The panel said their services had adapted to support parents digitally, but they shared concerns about the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on mothers and babies.

The NSPCC reported an increase of 28% in calls to its helpline about parental mental health in the first three weeks of lockdown.

Before the pandemic, up to one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers experienced perinatal mental health problems, the charity said.

Eileen O’Sullivan, a specialist health visitor in Warwickshire, said:

“Supporting mothers digitally can be challenging and there is a concern that some may be suffering in silence, too scared to share how they are really feeling over video.

“I am also seeing that my colleagues are being extra vigilant because we don’t want to miss anything.”

The NSPCC cited data from the Institute of Health Visiting, which found in some areas of England at least 50% of health visitors, including some from perinatal mental health and parent-infant teams, were redeployed into other health services in the initial period of the lockdown.

The NSPCC is urging the Government to ensure support is provided to parents as the country comes out of lockdown, and to come up with a plan to rebuild health visiting and perinatal services after the crisis.

Andrew Fellowes, public affairs manager at the NSPCC, said:

“At the NSPCC we know that, if undetected and untreated, perinatal mental health problems can have a devastating impact on women, partners and babies, both immediately but also long after the COVID-19 situation has passed.

“It is imperative that families continue to have access to services during the lockdown so that mental health problems can be identified and specialist support provided if needed.”

The iHV continues to support health visitors, our perinatal mental health champions and specialist health visitors in perinatal and infant mental health to deliver their services to families who may be adversely affected by the lockdown, particularly with respect to safeguarding and mental health issues. We have produced specific guidance to help which can be found in our COVID-19 (coronavirus) guidance for health professionals webpage: https://iHV.org.uk/COVID-19

At the start of the UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (4-10 May 2020) with the theme of ‘Supporting mums during difficult times’, a blog by Melita Walker, Mental Health Lead at the Institute of Health Visiting , to highlight the essential work of health visitors in supporting mums’ and families’ mental health needs – and a call to join us in recognising and appreciating all Mental Health Practitioners as key frontline workers at 8pm this Thursday #ClapForMentalHealthHeroes @ClapforCarers @ClapForKeyworkers.

iHV clapping our Mental Health Workers

This Thursday at 8pm, like the previous Thursdays, the Institute of Health Visiting will be joining the national wave of appreciation for our courageous frontline workers. However, this week as part of Maternal Mental Health Week, we particularly want to recognise and honour the determined efforts of the iHV Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions and all those who have been working tirelessly alongside them throughout this pandemic, to prioritise and ensure that the mental health needs of families are effectively and proactively responded to during this pandemic.

The perinatal period, whilst often being one of great joy, is also an increased time of risk and vulnerability. Latest UK research suggests that:

  • 1 in 4 women are affected by perinatal mental health disorders
  • Maternal suicide is the leading cause of death when looked at over the perinatal period
  • Approximately 10% fathers experience perinatal mental illness (PMI) but 25-50% of fathers will experience perinatal anxiety or depression when the mother also has a PMI

The impact on the foetus or the infant/child who has a parent experiencing mental illness is not inevitably negative, but they are at increased risk for a range of poorer outcomes and it is essential that we make sure their voice is heard and that we are proactive and act to support families at the earliest opportunity.

At the moment, parents are having to negotiate the usual associated changes that becoming a parent involves (physiological, psychological, environmental, social and emotional changes) alongside reduced family, friend and service support and other increased worries, stress and impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“How it feels to be 29 weeks pregnant amid COVID-19, a thread…Truly I have no idea how I am supposed to feel. At first, I was really calm and over the last few days everything has changed. I am scared, I am anxious”.

As the country faces its biggest challenge in recent memory, the primary focus has been to stop the spread of the coronavirus and treat infected patients. This has required a rapid increase in staff required for frontline duties and, understandably, this is a priority. Attention is now turning to the secondary impacts of the pandemic, including the mental health and wellbeing of our children and their families. They too are at immediate risk and they cannot wait for support.

As this pandemic is global in its reach, learning from previous pandemics and other countries’ current experiences of the secondary impact of COVID-19 suggest that the pandemic is likely to have more adverse effects for vulnerable parents and children, with domestic violence and abuse, safeguarding and mental health needs of vulnerable populations likely to increase as the crisis continues. It is therefore imperative that the national response to COVID-19 incorporates both the immediate focus to treat people who are infected with the coronavirus, as well as children and families at risk from the secondary impact of the pandemic. We ignore, at our peril, the impact of not seeing perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) practitioners as frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19.

The iHV has trained 2095 multi-agency PIMH Champions and we are hearing the voices from professionals across the range of PIMH systems and services and from parents with needs across the mental health spectrum of care. Parents are telling us that they are anxious – we know for some that the current situation is triggering new episodes of illness and for others exacerbating illness already there, and we are hearing that parents feel unsure about reaching out for support.

Eve Canavan BEM, Coordinator- UK maternal mental health awareness week, Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, commented:

“The Perinatal Mental Health Partnership have received feedback from mums and families of the uncertainty surrounding what support is available from health care professionals at this unusual time,  with a clear message coming through that those who require support are unsure if they can contact their GP, midwife, health visitor or local mental health services. This means some women may not be currently accessing support they need. The stigma surrounding mental health and the perception that services are so overstretched and unsafe means that many mums are struggling but do not feel they have the right to ask for the help that they need. We are delighted to be working with the iHV and other key stakeholders during Maternal Mental Health week to get the message out that family mental health is a priority and that services to support families are very much open for business”. 

We are hearing from professionals whose concerns include, worry about:

  • hidden and unmet need
  • risk of suicide
  • the immediate safety of women and their unborn babies/infants/children
  • the potential impact of untreated mental health problems/illness on the unborn baby, developing infant and older children
  • the impact of the current stress that families are experiencing on the couple relationship/ couple conflict and domestic violence and abuse.

“Its really important to consider the impact of changes in working practices and redeployment of staff who play a vital role in in assessment, monitoring and onward referral for mums mental health. Some perinatal mental health conditions develop rapidly and without warning and families need urgent help”.

We are hearing that some PIMH practitioners have been redeployed while at the same time we are hearing that parents and their children need them now, and more than ever. We are also hearing of practitioners and services that continue to see the vital importance of prioritising mental health and from parents who say that they are a lifeline.

“I am pleased to say XXX health visiting service is increasing. 34 staff are being redeployed back in from various services within the trust. Health Visiting in XXX is considered critical to life service at the moment”.

“Now reassuring pregnant and postnatal mums, some of whom are fearful of attending hospital for maternity care. Please continue to keep antenatal appointments, scans and sharing worries and concerns with your midwife, it is safe to do so. If something doesn’t feel right, call you midwife”.

“Met my HV over the phone today- so knowledgeable, professional and kind!! Thankful for such a simple adjustment to practice that is reassuring for newbie mums”.

What can we do to support perinatal and infant mental health at this time?

The iHV will do all we can to support our PIMH Champions and colleagues working across the PIMH spectrum. We will continue to collaborate nationally, to support all families locally.

We have developed a comprehensive compendium of resources for professionals and families:

We are regularly updating these pages, so please keep checking back for the latest!

Let’s hear it for Family Perinatal Mental Health – this Thursday!

Maternal Mental Health , with its theme of “how to support mums through difficult times”, is a great opportunity to raise the importance of family mental health and to let families know what support is out there. It was brilliant to have the profile of perinatal mental health raised by the Duchess of Cambridge over weekend, and it has been wonderful to work alongside so many individuals, organisations, professionals, parents and alliances to highlight the need for supporting family mental health.

We look forward to sharing more of the fantastic examples of the responses and efforts from our frontline mental health practitioners to support family mental health during Maternal Mental Health week. Mental health practitioners are frontline now, and crucially, will be needed on the frontline (dealing with the psychological aftermath of COVID-19), long after any vaccine has brought the coronairus under control.

We do hope you will join us in recognising and appreciating all Mental Health Practitioners as key frontline workers at 8pm this Thursday #ClapForMentalHealthHeroes @ClapforCarers  @ClapForKeyworkers

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

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) was delighted to be invited to attend a virtual round table meeting about supporting new and expectant mothers with The Duchess of Cambridge this week to highlight the essential work and support that health visitors provide to new mothers.

The Duchess of Cambridge spoke with leading sector experts about the challenges and impact that COVID-19 is having on new and expectant mothers and their families ahead of the UK’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (4-10 May).

• Top line L-R: Jessica Read, Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, Julia McGinley, Head of Parent Support, Netmums (an inclusive online parenting community), Katie Massie-Taylor, Co-founder of Mush (an online community and app for mums)
• Second line L-R: Dr Edward Morris, President, The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG), Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting

On this call, the group discussed key concerns that new and expectant parents had during this time, including apprehension about going into hospital and for community appointments, isolation, reduced support systems and increased anxiety. They also discussed a potential silver lining of lockdown being the increased presence of supportive partners, and new families being able to spend more time together with their newborns. The experts also spoke about the importance of community and emotional support for mothers which has been made more difficult by social distancing.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, said:

“We want to get the message to families that the health visiting service is open, and we encourage all parents who would value some support to use their health visiting service when they need to.  Many areas now have advice lines that are manned throughout the day, in some cases into the evening.  If a health visitor isn’t immediately available a message can be left and one will ring back.”

Health visitors, alongside GPs, are the only health professionals who routinely see and support all families from pregnancy to when the youngest child goes to school.

The Duchess praised the resources developed by key institutions who are providing advice at this time saying:

“As organisations you’re playing such a vital role giving key information. You’re hugely trusted by the public and therefore the information you provide is a lifeline to a lot of people.”

The iHV has an area on their website for families which includes a section on Parenting through COVID-19. It can be found here: https://iHV.org.uk/ParentingCOVID19

The Institute of Health Visiting team would like to say thank you to every single health visitor and member of a health visiting team across the UK – we know that they are all going the extra mile to support the children and families in their areas. They are all heroes, our heroes.

More information about The Duchess’ meetings and round table call:

The Duchess took part in a call with midwives from Kingston Hospital last week and on Wednesday held a roundtable call with representatives from the sector including:

  • Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance UK
  • Dr Eddie Morris, President, The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG)
  • Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting
  • Jessica Read, Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer
  • Katie Massie-Taylor, Co-founder of Mush Mums (an online community and app for mums)
  • Julia McGinley, Head of Parent Support, Netmums (an inclusive online parenting community)


The UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week will take place next week – 4-10 May 2020, with the theme of ‘Supporting mums during difficult times’.

Although the awareness week was paused 3 weeks ago, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the support need for mums and families seeking advice during this difficult time means that the week will go ahead with a revised focus.  The theme this year is now ‘Supporting mums during difficult times’ which will enable the week to provide a supportive platform where families can be reassured and be signposted to vital resources and safe support which is what people need most at this time at this unusual time.

During this awareness week there is absolutely no pressure to take part in any activities that are run.  People following the week (whether mum, parent, healthcare professional, peer support worker and beyond) will not be asked to do anything such as sharing photographs of themselves to promote the week, during what is for many, a difficult time. All the resources created and provided during the week will be available afterwards for you to pick up when you need it.

Energies will focus on ensuring that parents feel well informed and supported at this time when anxieties are heightened for so many.

Themed days:

Each day will be themed and will have its own unique hashtag:

  • Monday 4 May – The focus of the first day of the campaign will be ‘What is Maternal Mental Health’? We will provide an overview of the different illnesses that affect women in the perinatal period. 
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpWhatIsMaternalMH
  • Tuesday 5 May– We will be focusing on what good support looks like. Support can be wide ranging from advice and help from health care professionals, medication, therapy, help from the voluntary sector and safe peer support. There will be particular focus on alternative support options within the COVID-19 period. Charities, local peer support groups and services will be encouraged to share their details on social media so families know what support is available across the UK. This could include details of the service, contact information, the areas they cover, information on safeguarding policies, training and supervision they have in place for staff and volunteers.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpAccessingSafeSupport
  • Wednesday 6 May – This is World Maternal Mental Health Day and  Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP) are UK representatives for the day. Our theme for the day will be ‘The Village’, focusing on how we work together to remove barriers to services so all mums who need services can access them.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpTheVillage
  • Thursday 7 May – will focus on what support is available for friends and family of those who are experiencing maternal mental illness, with a particular focus on what is available during the COVID-19 period.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhpLookingAfterYouAndYours
  • Friday 8 May – To end the week, we will look at recovery and how it can look different for each person but with the message that it can and does happen. We will be encouraging a virtual ‘Positivity Pot’, publishing and sharing articles, blogs and vlogs about recovery, looking ahead to the future and self-care.
    • Hashtag for the day will be #pmhPositivityPot

PMHP will be resharing content from the week over 9 and 10 May.

Week online activities

  • #PNDHOUR – Following on from the success of the last three years, Rosey from PNDandMe, who is also a member of PMHP, will be running #PNDHOUR on Wednesday 6 May at 8pm on Twitter. Rosey runs this highly successful twitter hour each Wednesday throughout the year at 8pm and discusses different aspect of perinatal mental illness each week.  For more information on #PNDHour see http://pndandme.co.uk/what-is-pndhour/ 
  • Facebook Lives – There will be a full series of interactive Facebook Live sessions, run from the PMHP Facebook Page, focusing on maternal mental health. People watching the live sessions will be able to interact with the hosts and ask questions during some and the sessions will be available permanently to playback via the PMHP Facebook page. To view the sessions and / or take part, simply access the PMHP facebook page at the listed day and time – https://www.facebook.com/PerinatalMHPartnershipUK/
  • Tuesday 5 May at 11am – Signs, Symptoms and what we can offer you with the Association of Postnatal Illness. Join this facebook live from the APNI office to learn about postnatal illness and the help and support they can offer.
  • Wednesday 6 May at 2pm – Hard to reach or easy to ignore – Improving access to maternal mental healthcare in the South Asian Community. Deputy manager of Roshni2, Farah Lunat, will discuss the barriers and challenges South Asian women report when experiencing postnatal mental health difficulties. A discussion will be had on how South Asian mums specifically can be supported and what healthcare professionals and the community should be mindful of.
  • There will also be a session on Facebook with Action on Postpartum Psychosis, collaborating on content with the Institute of Health Visiting and Tommys . Details on these will be announced shortly.

PMHP will also be holding watch sessions via their Facebook page of their suite of previous Facebook Lives. These include:

  • Perinatal OCD with Maria Bavetta and Dr Fiona Challacombe. Perinatal OCD can revolve around significant fear of harm coming to a baby, with upsetting intrusive thoughts, and some people find themselves so distressed that they will take measures to manage their anxiety or prevent their fears coming true.This can be deeply distressing and parents who suffer from these symptoms are often scared of their thoughts. Maria and Fiona discussed these issues.
  • Getting support from Healthcare Professionals with Dr Stephanie De Giorgio. We know that approaching a healthcare professional when feeling low while pregnant or after having a baby can be a difficult step to take. Therefore, GP Dr Stephanie De Giorgio provided tips on how to talk about your symptoms to a healthcare professional and  advised on the steps that may be taken once you have done this to ensure you get support in your recovery.
  • An overview of Postpartum Psychosis. This was a great opportunity to hear from APP professionals and volunteers about how this psychiatric emergency is diagnosed, treated and recovered from.
  • Young mums and their mental health and wellbeing. The Young Mums Support Network and Young Mums Aid are two social enterprises who are working grass roots with mothers in the local community. They ran this Facebook live and discussed some of the real complex challenges young mums face which impacts their mental health and wellbeing.
  • The influence of BAME maternal community groups and mental wellbeing with The Motherhood Group.  This was presented by Sandra Igwe from The Motherhood Group, which is a support network where black women can talk about the issues they are facing.
  • Breastfeeding and antidepressants. Pharmacist Wendy Jones held this session to outline information about taking antidepressants while breastfeeding and which ones are compatible.
  • Post Adoption Depression. Brie, who founded the Colours of Adoption blog, held this session to discuss her personal experience of this little discussed illness to both raise awareness and make a difference for future adoptive families.
  • Peer Support in the Perinatal Period. This session was run by Juno, a perinatal charity in Edinburgh. They outlined the importance of and how powerful safe peer support can be to support mums.
  • Engaging with Health Care Professionals and accessing peer support. Smile Group led this session where they challenged the stereotypical views of what a peer support group is like , provided an overview of what is involved and introduced their pioneering GP appointment checklist which helps mums who find it difficult to verbalise their symptoms.
  • Recovery and talking to your children about your illness – In this session our member Eve Canavan BEM talked about her personal experience of Postpartum Psychosis, recovery and the tools that can support it. She was also joined by her nine-year-old son Joe where they spoke about discussing the experience with him.
  • Dads and mental health. Dads in Mind ran a session dedicated to fathers with a peer support worker and a Perinatal psychiatrist.

Resources you may find helpful 

What can you do to get involved?

Follow PMHP on their social media channels:

Use the #SupportingMumsDuringDifficultTimes and #MaternalMHMatters hashtag on social media when referring to the week and the daily specific hashtags if relating to the daily theme.

Tag the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership in any posts you make during the week

Highlight what your organisation/charity/support group does to support families affected by perinatal mental illness with particular reference with how you are offering support during the COVID-19 period.

PMHP are more than happy to support media requests and will promote your activities for the week! Contact them via [email protected]

The iHV is delighted to be supporting UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week 2019 which runs from 29 April until 5 May 2019. Perinantal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) has been a priority for us from day one, and we are proud of our work in mental health.

We firmly believe that there is no health without mental health and that health visitors are uniquely placed to:

  • – prevent mental ill-health in the first instance
  • – promote mental wellbeing of the mother, other family members and the wider community
  • – offer evidence-based interventions to families experiencing mental health problems
  • – refer on for timely specialist support
  • – coordinate integrated care experiences
  • – support relationships between parents and infants, the couple relationship and wider family relationships

In order to deliver a high-quality service, families need health visitors to be in sufficient numbers, with the right capacity, competence and confidence. There is strong support for a universally well-trained workforce that is complemented, supported and strengthened through strong leadership from specialist health visitors in every organisation.

Throughout the week we are going to be sharing examples of how leadership from health visitors who practice at an advanced level (often referred to as Specialist PIMH Health Visitors) are making a difference! Follow #maternalMHmatters on Twitter for all the latest updates.

About Maternal Mental Health Week

Led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP), the week focuses on mums affected by Maternal Mental Illness uses the general hashtag #maternalmhmatters on social media.

Follow PMHP on Twitter – @PMHPU and Instagram – @perinatalmhpartnership

Each day this week has a theme and specific hashtag:

  • – Monday 29 April – ‘What is Perinatal Mental Health’? – #pmhpwhatispmh
  • – Tuesday 30 April  – What good support looks like – #pmhpsupport
  • – Wednesday 1 May – This is World Maternal Mental Health Day and the theme for the day will be ‘The Village’, focusing on how we work together to remove barriers to services so all mums who need services can access them – #pmhpthevillage
  • – Thursday 2nd May – focus on recovery – #pmhprecovery
  • – riday 3 May – To end the week, we will be encouraging the creation of a virtual ‘Positivity Pot’ so do share articles and blogs about recovery, looking ahead to the future and selfcare – #pmhppositivitypot

How you can get involved:

  • – Highlight what you and / or your organisation are doing to promote mental well being of families and how you/health visiting service supports families affected by perinatal mental illness.
  • – Use the #maternalmhmatters hashtag in conjunction with #healthvisiting on social media when referring to the week and the daily specific hashtags if relating to the daily theme.
  • – Get in touch with us – write a blog/send pics of activities you are doing as part of MMH week/MMH day.
  • – Make contact with local commissioners and share the importance of your role in PIMH, why not take a commissioner out with you/ ask a parent to share their experience , show them the Channel 4 film we made last year, facilitate them to talk with a family who you have supported.
  • – Book on the iHV PIMH Champions training
  • – #PNDHOUR – Following on from the success of the last two years, Rosey from PNDandMe will be running #PNDHOUR every night during the week at 8pm on Twitter. Do join in!

Melita Walker, Mental Health Lead, iHV





This year’s theme is Diversity – understanding and reaching the missing families.

  • Date: Thursday 6 September 2018
  • Location: Imperial College London

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), of which the iHV is an active member, hopes the 2018 conference will start a conversation about diversity and provide an opportunity to focus on identifying and breaking down the barriers to mental health services for everyone.

The conference will:

  • provide an overview of the latest research on families experiencing barriers in accessing perinatal mental health support
  • highlight the latest thinking and interventions to meet the needs of hard to reach communities
  • share the stories of women from diverse backgrounds
  • bring together practitioners and experts from adult, child, maternity, social care, early years and perinatal mental health services to discuss diversity and perinatal mental health problems
  • showcase Mums and Babies in Mind (MABIM), Everyone’s Business and Maternal Mental Health Alliance and A Better Start (ABS)

Today MBRRACE-UK has published its latest Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity findings.

The latest from the national collaborative programme studying maternal and infant deaths, MBRRACE-UK, reviewed the care of 124 women who died and 46 women who had severe illness during or after pregnancy in the UK and Ireland between 2013 and 2015. The report, ‘Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care’, examined the care of women with severe epilepsy and women who had severe mental illness, as well as the care of women who died.

Download the full report, lay summary and infographic for Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care report – Lessons learned to inform maternity care from the UK and Ireland Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity 2013-15.

Today’s #HVWeek topic: Maternal and Infant Mental health – a government priority.

What local initiatives have been developed? How do you raise its profile so that families are more easily able to speak out?

Welcome to Day 4 of national #HVweek

Today’s practice theme focuses on maternal and infant mental health – subjects very close to us here at the Institute. We know that:

  • Mental health problems in the perinatal period effect 1 in 5 women
  • New fathers’ depression rates are double the national average for men in the same age group
  • 122,000 babies under one are living with a parent who has a mental illness
  • The mental health of parents in the perinatal period can have long-term effects on the infant, especially in relation to their later emotional and behavioural development

Please do continue to tweet and send us your contributions this week – we would love to hear about perinatal and infant mental health initiatives in your community and showcase the fantastic work by health visitors out there.

We have a wealth of resources and materials to share with you below, to support you to work with confidence alongside families perinatally, providing evidence-based care underpinned by the growing number of local care pathways for perinatal and infant mental health.


Since 2015, we have trained 550 HV Perinatal Mental Health Champions, and almost 300 HV Infant Mental Health Champions. More recently, we have extended our training to multi-agency audiences (with in excess of another 400 multi-agency PMH and PIMH Champions trained) in recognition of the seamless and integrated working required to support women and their families perinatally for good outcomes.

We are about to launch our new Fathers and PMH training course – so do keep an eye out for it!


Based on our Champions training, our e-learning modules are designed to build on the theoretical underpinning that you use in practice, whilst refreshing and updating your practice.  Why not complete a module today?

Good Practice Points (for members only)

If you are a member, why not access our Good Practice Points (GPP) around mental health and wellbeing?


For those short of time, our videos are excellent, easy-view, short clips from national experts: Dr Jane Hanley on Maternal Mental Health; Dr Liz MacDonald-Clifford on Post-partum Psychosis


Parent Tips

We have a selection of top tips for parents on perinatal and infant mental health which we encourage you to share with your families:

Please note that some of these resources are available to iHV members only.

Many of the products highlighted will be those that are freely accessible on our website to non-members. However, as a not-for-profit organisation we are reliant on our members to contribute and to support us in our journey supporting you.

Remember, if you do like what you see and you would like to access the full range of resources you can join us as an Associate member or Friend for just £6.50 a month. Your subscriptions for professional membership will attract tax relief as the iHV is now HMRC approved. As a basic rate tax payer, this could mean relief of over £15 a year on your annual subscription.

So do join us now!

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