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: 

PATH, a new project to support parents experiencing perinatal mental illnesses (PMI), launches this week with a campaign to raise awareness of and de-stigmatise mental illness in the perinatal period.

Findings from a new PATH survey* echo the breadth of evidence around: concerning levels of poor mental health experienced by parents during their pregnancy or the first year after birth; their lack of confidence to seek support; and the exacerbating effects on these issues of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) joins the call to encourage new and expectant parents to reach out, talk and get help.

As a contributing partner in this EU-funded project, the iHV has collaborated on the 3 main aims of PATH to:

  • Reach parents with digital and community initiatives for families, including a new support hub
  • Reach healthcare professionals with PATH resources and training designed to increase their confidence to recognise PMI symptoms and provide appropriate care
  • Reach employers with resources that help them better support maternity and paternity leave and parents’ return to work

Workplace provision for new and expectant parents with existing, or emerging, health issues

In partnership with Southampton City Council and Bournemouth University, the iHV has engaged in a project exploring workplace provision for new and expectant parents with existing, or emerging, health issues addressing:

  • what employers can do to identify and support new and expectant parents who may be experiencing, or who are at risk of, mental ill-health
  • what employers can do to ease the transition to parenthood and help parents achieve a satisfactory work-life balance

Findings from subsequent literature review, focus groups and interviews resulted in 10 recommendations for employers. Further detail is highlighted in the following publications:


Fathers and Partner Awareness training

There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the new Fathers and Partner Awareness training delivered by the iHV, in partnership with Dad Matters UK, as part of the PATH project, to raise professional awareness of perinatal mental health needs of dads, co-parents and intended parents.

Feedback from SCPHN students in the 2Seas region undertaking the training include:

‘It has been great, really eye opening and has inspired me to challenge our current practices and take on this for some serious change!’

‘Thank you, it will change the way I interact with fathers, moving forward.’

‘Very helpful, food for thought on how to include all parents. to remember to include all parents when doing visits.’

‘Really opened my eyes to how excluded dads can be. In future practice I will try to engage and include them as much as possible.’

The iHV has risen to the challenge not only of the virtual world but also the world of virtual reality by participating in the development of an exciting new immersive VR resource to supplement Father Awareness training. Filming was delayed due to COVID but iHV partners, at media company Alright Mate and Bournemouth University, can be seen here putting it all together and we are looking forward to our first VR experience very soon.


The iHV will continue to develop and review content and resources, alongside parents, peer supporters, the voluntary sector and health professionals, for the online multimedia international support hub to enable a deeper understanding of perinatal mental health issues and how to access timely and appropriate support.

About PATH

PATH is a newly EU-funded project which will enable women, families and healthcare professionals to prevent, recognise and successfully manage mild and moderate perinatal mental health issues. PATH will enable parents, the wider family, employers and healthcare professionals to find support and information to help with the parenting journey. PATH aims to promote positive parenting experiences and enable parents to feel confident in seeking self-help or professional support, leading to happier and healthier families.

PATH is partnered with organisations across the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and France:

  • Leading partner: Health and Europe Centre (UK)
  • KMPT (Kent and Medway NHS and Social Partnership Trust) (UK)
  • Devon Mind (UK)
  • Southampton City Council (UK)
  • Odisee University College (Belgium)
  • Kent County Council (UK)
  • Institute of Health Visitors (UK)
  • World Health Organisation Centre in Lille (France)
  • Artesis Plantijn University (Belgium)
  • Bournemouth University (UK)
  • Gio Vzw (Belgium)
  • Maasstad Hospital (Netherlands)
  • UZA: Antwerp University Hospital (Belgium)


*The research was conducted by Censuswide between 21.04.2021 – 28.04.2021, with 1,001 parents who have experienced PMI (either self-diagnosed or professionally diagnosed) during the last 10 years. The survey was conducted from a random sample of UK adults.  Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society, which is based on the ESOMAR principles. 

Since we advertised the opportunity to come and join team iHV, we have had some changes to the iHV team. As a result, we are now able to offer the Professional Development Officer PIMH post as a permanent job. Furthermore, there is not a preference to being based in the South.

As such, we have revised the offer and also extended the deadline for applications to 14 December and the interview date to 17 December.

The iHV is seeking to appoint a full-time health visitor expert in perinatal and infant mental health and practice development to work with them supporting their European project, training and various other related projects, as well as covering some national meetings, a job share would be considered.

The post holder, who will have a master’s degree, will be home based and prepared to travel within the post, mostly within the UK, but potentially also to European countries. They will ideally be an iHV perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) Champion or a specialist health visitor for PIMH, have broad experience in these fields, with additional research, or project development experience.

A confident self-starter, they will deliver the requirements of our European project, deliver training, attend meetings, facilitate regional iHV PIMH Champion Forums and input advice to other work streams on request.

The post holder will be highly respected by colleagues for their capacity to drive and deliver local professional developments.

This is a permanent full-time position and a job share would be considered.

Applications close: 9am Monday 14 December 2020

Interviews: 17 December 2020 (please keep this clear)

Mental health is a key public health priority, yet it is often one of the most neglected areas of public health. The human and economic cost of poor mental health was already challenging pre-COVID which is having a significant impact on people’s mental health, with parents and their infants being particularly vulnerable due to a lack of usual support and services, alongside the additional challenges of becoming a parent and the personal, social and economic consequences of the pandemic.

The challenges of investment for and access to services at the point of need (including the opportunity for prevention of family mental health problems in the first place, early intervention and family mental health promotion) has been greatly exacerbated due to COVID-19.

That is why, for this year’s World Mental Health Day, the iHV is delighted to be engaged in two projects which embrace the theme of World Mental Health Day: Mental Health for All, Greater Investment – Greater Access.

We have a new partnership with Dr Ranjana Das and Dr Paul Hodkinson from the University of Surrey and the NCT. We will work in partnership with parents and professionals to develop innovative evidence-informed resources for parent communities, alongside raising awareness of need and supporting healthcare professionals, services and commissioners to design and deliver services that are what families say they need. Read more about the work of Ranjana and Paul and our new project here


Our other project, the PATH (PerinAtal menTal Health) project, was launched on World Maternal Mental Health Day last year, with the ambition of supporting the emotional and mental health of new parents in their journey to parenthood. Partner organisations within the project work across the European 2Seas Region, which includes England, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium.  Those involved have a diverse range of expertise including mental health, public health, maternity, nursing, medicine, employment, project management, research, and technology. This week we joined project partners from Kent and Medway Health and Social Care NHS Trust and Rachael Parker (Professional Development Officer iHV) and Dr Bosky Nair (Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist KMPT) presented a summary of the PATH project at the virtual 2020 International Marcé Society Conference.







The PATH project is currently inviting parents within the perinatal period to take part in an online survey about their  mental health and wellbeing during the transition to parenthood, to support the  development and evaluation of a multi-media campaign.

For more information and to take part in this study, please scan the QR code or click the link below:






On World Maternal Mental Health Day and during UK Maternal Mental Awareness Week 2019, the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) is delighted to be part of PATH – a newly EU-funded project which will enable women, families and healthcare professionals to prevent, identify and successfully manage mild and moderate perinatal mental health issues.

Becoming a new parent should be an exciting time – however, for up to one in five women this isn’t the case. Perinatal mental illnesses (PMI), such as postnatal depression, are not always recognised and carry a long-term cost to society of £8.1 billion1 for each one-year cohort of births or approximately £74,000 per mother and child.

This cross-border initiative involves thirteen partners from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. Partners from the UK include the Health and Europe Centre as the Lead Partner, Plymouth and District MIND, Southampton City Council, Kent County Council, Kent & Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust as well as the Institute of Health Visiting. PATH has been awarded more than €5 million of European funding for this €8.5 million partnership.

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

“Many mothers suffer from perinatal mental illness following birth and up to a year after, of which a majority may not be receiving all the support they need.

“The PATH project will deliver a multi-media campaign to raise awareness of and de-stigmatise PMI and promote prepared parenting, reaching a total of 600,000 people across the 2Seas area.”

“Through this project we will produce a suite of online resources and face-to-face training for health professionals in order to increase their confidence in recognising PMI symptoms and providing appropriate care for mothers and fathers. Alongside this will be resources for employers, helping them to support the return to work of new mums.”

PATH will prepare parents pre-birth for their new role and help them avoid or lessen the impact of possible PMI. The project will also improve the skills of healthcare professionals equipping them to address PMI confidently and effectively. PATH will innovatively design, deliver and implement new, durable services both online and face-to-face, aiming to increase recognition and prevention of PMI and support new families’ mental wellbeing which will, in turn, benefit their children.

PATH will also develop a new online multi-media international support hub, a course of support sessions for 4000 new families in mixed groups of pre-pregnant/pregnant/parenthood and a ground-breaking new model of holistic family support. This model will include peer supporter training and a network of intergenerational community support groups to increase recognition and understanding of PMI and enable greater community support to new families.

1 LSE and Centre for Mental Health – The Costs of Perinatal Mental Health Problems Report summary (Oct 2014) – Annette Bauer, Michael Parsonage, Martin Knapp, Valentina Iemmi & Bayo Adelaja