We are delighted to announce the launch of our 6th annual Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Conference ‘Dismantling the Barriers: collaborative approaches to perinatal mental health care’, taking place on Thursday 19 September 2024 as a half-day virtual conference.

Anyone can experience mental health problems during pregnancy or after having a baby. Without adequate support these problems can impact negatively on short and long-term outcomes for the whole family. Stigma and fear of child removal remain significant barriers to families seeking support for perinatal mental health concerns. Some families are at greater risk of experiencing poor mental health, particularly where they face multiple disadvantages and systemic inequalities. They’re also less likely to be offered the care they need.

Evidence suggests that improved professional competence, closer multi-agency working and training, and collaboration with parents from diverse backgrounds can improve outcomes for families experiencing poor perinatal mental health, particularly where multiple adversity exists.

This conference will focus on raising awareness of families whose perinatal mental health needs are less well met and understood. It will be suitable for all practitioners working with families in the perinatal period as well as service leads, commissioners, researchers and policy makers.

We are delighted to have expert speakers sharing their experiences about:

  • Young parent families
  • Gypsy Roma and Traveller families
  • Families with mothers in prison
  • Asylum-seeking families

By considering recommendations from recent research, reflections on best practice examples and powerful accounts from parents, we’ll think about how we can work together to improve experiences and dismantle barriers for these families in receiving equitable, high quality perinatal mental health care.

If you are passionate about improving the emotional health and wellbeing of all families, then book now and join us for what promises to be a dynamic and inspiring event!

Don’t miss our special early bird ticket rates, available until 19 July 2024 – book your place today! In addition, group bookings of 5 or more will receive a 15% discount off the total order when booked at the same time.

Are you or someone you know, a parent who has experienced mental health problems while you were pregnant or after having your baby, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or psychosis? Would you be willing to share your story with professionals who work with families during the perinatal period?

We are currently looking for lived experience speakers to join our training events; specifically parents from Black, Black Mixed, Asian or other minoritised ethnic groups; parents from the LGBTQI+ community; and teenage parents.

The iHV Mental Health Team is committed to improving the wellbeing of all babies, children, and their families. Training healthcare professionals across the UK, including midwives, health visitors and psychologists, and early years practitioners, is a fundamental part of this work. Our training programmes have won national and international awards, and we believe the main reason for their success is keeping the voice of the family at the heart. Parents are involved at every step, and our lived experience speakers are one of the most highly valued parts of our training.

A key focus of our work is tackling inequalities in mental health and developing inclusive practice – so that all families are provided with safe, personalised, high-quality care. We need your voice so that our training is truly representative of the diverse communities that we work alongside.

For more information and to find out how to be involved email [email protected].

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.



We are very excited to be delivering our 5th annual iHV PIMH conference on Monday 19 June at King’s House Conference Centre, Manchester. Following Infant Mental Health Awareness Week and being held on International Fathers’ Mental Health Day 2023, this year’s event can be attended either face-to-face or online – our first real opportunity for physically being together to consider PIMH since 2019!

This conference is about coming together, it’s about reconnecting and strengthening our sense of belonging, and our belief and our commitment in what we can achieve. Delegates will be encouraged to explore, to be curious and to wonder together about what some of the latest research and innovation in PIMH means, in relation to providing safe, personalised, inclusive, high-quality PIMH care.

As part of the conference programme, delegates will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in extraordinary stories that cross cultures, generations, worlds, and times.

We have a phenomenal line-up of parental, academic, professional, and creative leaders, including Professor Dawn Edge, Dr Andrew Cairns, Professor Jane Barlow, Sally Hogg, Dr Karen Bateson – and many more still to be announced!

We very much look forward to welcoming you to this special event to build understanding, empathy and love for our families and communities, our world and each other.

Don’t miss our special early bird ticket rates, available until 21 April – book your place today! In addition, groups bookings of 5 or more will receive a 15% discount off the total order when booked at the same time.


Programme & Speakers

This year we are delighted to have a number of very eminent speakers lined up to address our delegates.

Featured speakers include:

  • Professor Dawn Edge, Professor of Mental Health and Inclusivity, Manchester University Academic Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Director EDI Research Unit
  • Dr Andrew Cairns, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist CNTW NHS FT, Clinical Director, NENC Perinatal Provider Collaborative, Psychiatric Advisor, Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths
  • Professor Jane Barlow, Professor of Evidence Based Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention University of Oxford, President of the Association of Infant Mental Health, editor-in-chief of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH)
  • Sally Hogg / UNICEF, Policy specialist and advocate for babies and young children
  • Dr Karen Bateson, Infant Mental Health specialist
  • Plus, more to be announced soon!

Conference Aim:

To increase confidence and motivation to enable high-quality PIMH care.

Learning outcomes:

  • Reflect on the importance of the latest MBRRACE findings
  • Recognise that, for some communities, accessing and getting quality PIMH care can be especially difficult
  • Understand some of the additional barriers that exist for families facing multiple disadvantages and systemic inequality
  • Be informed on good practice in the evaluation of the parent-infant relationship
  • Be aware of emerging thinking in relation to describing infant mental health
  • Appreciate what good care looks like to both practitioners and families with lived experience

How to book

  • If you are an iHV Associate member, SCPHN Student member or a retired member, ensure you have your membership number ready to use as a discount code to secure your iHV member discount rate and go to the online booking link below.
  • If you are an iHV member but you do not know your membership number, please email [email protected]
  • If you are not a member but would like to take advantage of our member rates, please join us today!
  • Click here to go to our online booking system


Just before the end of 2022, the iHV celebrated its 10th birthday and, reflecting on those years, we feel incredibly privileged to have worked alongside so many inspiring people. Year on year, the iHV Mental Health Team has been part of some phenomenal partnerships, delivering a difference for families – and this last year is no exception. Thank you to you all.

Our Mental Health Team report, published today, looks back and celebrates what we have collectively achieved from January 2022 to January 2023 – despite the challenges. We hope you enjoy it – and we hope that during 2023, as part of enabling your own wellbeing and future successes, you also take the time to celebrate your achievements.

Reflecting on the last 10 years, Melita Graham, iHV Head of Mental Health Dept, said:

I came into the iHV because I believed it was the organisation that would offer me the most opportunity to make the biggest difference, in my lifetime, to the lives of babies and their families. After 10 years, my conviction is even stronger, and without exception, each member of the iHV Mental Health Team shares this belief.

Such a lot has happened in the world in the last year and with the pivot to online working, beside the increased need of mental health support for families because of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and widening inequalities, the professional pace of life is staggering.

Throughout 2022, we have stayed close to health visitors and iHV Champions on the ground, parents with lived experience and our partner organisations. We know how tough it is for families and for health visitors and our partners across the mental health system supporting families. The iHV Survey 2022 makes for sobering reading and the 2022 MBRRACE report yet again showed that suicide is still the leading cause of death for women when looking across the perinatal period. Both reports add weight to the mounting evidence of the unacceptable and preventable widening inequalities across the UK.

The iHV has worked hard alongside you in 2022 to drive change and, going into 2023, we are deeply committed to making sure that the voices of babies and their families are heard. Alongside our partners, we won’t stop until every family, irrespective of where they live, has access to a health visitor who has the right qualities, competence, and capacity to deliver high-quality, personalised, and compassionate family mental health care.

To achieve this, we must make self-care for ourselves and each other a priority. All too often, we move on to the next thing without stopping to acknowledge and consider the challenges overcome, the distance travelled, the differences we have made, and what we need to sustain our energy and our hope for the future. At our final iHV Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Forum in December 2022, iHV PIMH Champions came together and celebrated what they had achieved – despite the challenges. Each one of us went away feeling more supported, buoyed, re-energised and inspired! We are all looking forward to building our connections in 2023 and beyond.

Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, said:

“I am delighted to see today’s report published which sets out the phenomenal achievements of the iHV’s Mental Health team in the last 12 months. Supporting families’ mental health  is a priority for the Institute and for the nation – we are privileged to have such a highly skilled team leading this work. Congratulations to each member of the iHV’s mental health team for their achievements and Melita Graham for her inspiring leadership.

“I hope that you will enjoy reading today’s report which showcases the numerous award-winning and innovative PIMH programmes that are being delivered across the UK by the iHV, and in partnership with others, to support practitioners in their work with families and better mental health across the lifecourse.”

Bookings open for 11 and 12 May 2022


This is an opportunity to book a place on our hosted training event which provides an opportunity for individual practitioners to complete our programme.

Our multi-agency Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Champions training programme is designed to improve family mental health by:

  • increasing competence and confidence in perinatal and infant mental health practice
  • developing place-based leadership for perinatal and infant mental health across complex systems of care
  • raising awareness of the importance of perinatal and infant mental health across the workforce

Date and Time:

  • Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 May 2022 (both days to be attended)
  • 09:00-16:30 online – log in from 08:45

Cost of places:

  • £415 – iHV Member (membership number required for booking)
  • £450 – Non-member

How do I apply?

Every baby, every child, happy, healthy, safe and valued
and every parent feeling supported and able to achieve this

The core mission at the iHV is to improve the lives of all infants and their families through leading excellence in practice and reducing health inequalities. To help achieve this the Institute has always had a strong focus on perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH). We really do believe that there is “No Health without Mental Health” and that a healthy parent and a healthy parent-infant relationship is the foundation for good mental health across the life-course and, in turn, a healthy society.


That said, 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.


Certainly, the successes of the iHV Mental Health Department across 2021 have only been possible through working well with each other and our wider partners and so, on a day that has become known for celebrating relationships, we are delighted to share the iHV Mental Health Department Report 2021/2022.

Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, said:

“I am delighted to see today’s report published which sets out the phenomenal achievements of the iHV’s Mental Health team in the last 12 months. Supporting better perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) is a priority for the Institute and for the nation – we are privileged to have such a highly skilled team leading this work. Congratulations to each member of the iHV PIMH team for their achievements and Melita Walker for her inspiring leadership.

“I hope that you will enjoy reading today’s report which showcases the numerous award-winning and innovative PIMH programmes that are being delivered across the UK by the iHV, and in partnership with others, to support practitioners in their work with families and better mental health across the lifecourse.”

Melita Walker, Head of Mental Health iHV, commented:

“I would like to thank the amazing team at the iHV and all our parent, professional and wider system partners. We could not have achieved the successes we have without their fantastic efforts and support. By collaborating and finding ways of keeping connected, even while working remotely, we have enjoyed discovering new talents and perspectives, been able to tackle new projects, opened up possibilities for new solutions and better results, and strengthened the opportunities to enable good family mental health and wellbeing.”

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Happy reading – and THANK YOU
For all that you do

Exciting and unique development opportunity with the Institute

Professional Development Officer: Perinatal and Infant Mental Health

The iHV is seeking to appoint a Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH), Professional Development Officer.
The successful post holder will be a health visitor expert in perinatal and infant mental health and will support the iHV Mental Health Department workstream.

The post holder will be home based but, as restrictions ease, they should be prepared to travel mostly within the UK, but potentially also internationally. They will ideally be an iHV PIMH Champion and/or a specialist health visitor for PIMH, have broad experience in these fields, with additional research, or project development experience. A proven track record in delivering high quality PIMH training, both virtually and face-to-face, is essential.

A confident self-starter, they will deliver training to multi-agency audiences, attend national and regional PIMH meetings, deliver UK-wide regional Forums for our PIMH Champions and input advice to other iHV work streams on request.

We are looking for a dynamic and motivated leader, who is passionate about perinatal and infant mental health – an individual who is confident to drive and deliver positive change to enable good family mental health and wellbeing.

This post is for one year in the first instance with a definite expectation of extension, a job share would be considered. The Institute offers a competitive pension scheme.

Applications close: 9am Monday 28 February 2022

Oxford University study recommends commissioning of Specialist Health Visitors in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health throughout UK to tackle growing social cost issue

Oxford University has published research examining the training and qualifications of Specialist Health Visitors in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (Sp HV PIMH), and their role in supporting health visitors and families at risk of /or experiencing mental health problems during the perinatal period.


The report recommends that Sp HV PIMH should be commissioned throughout the UK to tackle this issue, which has an extremely high social and financial cost. Currently, Sp HV PIMH constitute just 0.8% of the health visiting workforce (in England). The Oxford research found that in some areas Sp HV PIMH posts had never been funded, and in other areas the funding had been discontinued or cut – these were cited as the biggest barriers to the promotion of perinatal and infant mental health.

Perinatal mental health issues can have a devastating impact on women and their families, and results in a financial cost of £8.1 billion for each one-year cohort of births in the UK, with 72% of this cost relating to adverse impacts on the child. As such, maternal and family mental health has been designated as one of six high-impact areas for the health visiting workforce.

Abigail Reynolds, a mum with lived experience, shared:

“I was diagnosed with severe Anorexia Nervosa in early 2019, when I was seven months pregnant with my second child. The past three years have been unimaginably challenging, but my health visitor​s support throughout my illness and recovery has enabled me to rebuild my life, to learn how to care for myself as well as my children – and to believe I am worthy of that care – and to gain the confidence to begin using my personal experience to help educate and support others in both the eating disorders and perinatal mental health areas.

“Health visitors are so well placed ​within the community, and have a unique opportunity to build trusting relationships with the whole family to support family mental health​ – they are a vital part of the system.”

The study surveyed 41 Sp HV PIMH and 3 Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions, who described their casework as focusing on areas such as parental antenatal depression, antenatal anxiety, general anxiety, birth trauma, postnatal depression and panic attacks, using a range of interventions including listening visits and motivational interviewing amongst others.

Survey respondents reported current barriers to the promotion of PIMH as being a lack of funding (82.3%) and a lack of understanding among commissioners about PIMH (64.7%) and the role of HVs in PIMH (73.5%) – with the discontinuity in funding that has occurred over recent years being perceived to have led to a constant need to reinvent the wheel.

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

“We welcome this timely report which clearly sets out the important role of Specialist PIMH Health Visitors. Health visitors have a key role in supporting good family mental health. However, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were many system challenges to ensuring that all families had access to the right care at the right time. So this year, more than ever, the time has been absolutely right to have a focus on leadership – the role of the  Specialist Health Visitor in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health and how a well-resourced health visiting service, as part of the PIMH system, can maximise the opportunity for good family mental health and wellbeing.

“The timing of this report fits very well with priorities for family mental health and the Government’s recent commitment for PIMH in the last budget. Its recommendations echo what national think tanks, such as the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and the First 1001 Days Movement, are campaigning for and provides policy makers and commissioners with sound evidence to improve family mental health through an effective health visiting service.”

We are delighted to share a case study written by Helen, who is a health visitor working in the East of England. Helen’s case study demonstrates the breadth of the health visiting role and through using her specialist public health nursing skills, was able to identify several problems which were impacting on the whole family’s health and wellbeing.

What started out to be a mother’s request for sleep support for her 10-week-old baby was actually a cry for help as the mother was suffering with perinatal illness, alongside having relationship difficulties with her partner. Helen built a trusting relationship with both parents and identified what the problems were, to ensure the whole family were supported.

Many positive outcomes were achieved for the family:

  • There was an improvement in perinatal mental health symptoms
  • The parents’ relationship improved
  • The infant and parent relationship strengthened
  • The mother ceased seeking additional support from her GP and private consultants

Helen received the following feedback from the mother:

I just wanted to say a big thank you for your support for the past year. It feels like a huge milestone reaching 12 months. I really appreciate your steady and non-judgemental support, and we wouldn’t have made it here without you. Thank you.’

Helen was able to #TurnOffTheTaps and reduce the burden on the NHS

Calling all health visitors:

We invite you to find your inner warrior and share your stories on social media. How have you made a difference to babies, children and families? Support the #TurnOffTheTaps campaign and raise the profile of health visiting so every baby can get the best start in life. Together we are stronger. #InvestInHealthVisiting