Circular puzzle with piece highlighted in the middle and a picture of a mum and two babies in the middle

Defining essential perinatal mental health care: health visiting

The MMHA’s ‘Make all care count’ campaign phase highlights and defines eight essential services that can play a crucial role in improving outcomes for women and families affected by perinatal mental health problems.

What is the role of health visiting in providing essential perinatal mental health care?

    • All families in the UK should have access to a health visiting service that works with them from pregnancy to a child reaching the age of five, meaning health visitors are uniquely placed to support the mental health and wellbeing of the whole family.


    • Health visitors are registered nurses/midwives who have additional training to be a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse.


    • Health visitors should assess the mental health and wellbeing of women and their families at each contact. Health visitors offer preventative health promotion, evidence-based interventions and when needed timely referral to specialist mental health services.


    • Health visitors are trained to support family relationships. This may involve the promotion of positive parent-infant relationships and undertaking specialist interventions to support good family mental health and wellbeing.


    • Health visitors work with community staff nurses, nursery nurses and family support workers to provide the best possible care. Some services incorporate programmes like the Family Nurse Partnership for young first-time parents. All roles within these services need to have training in Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) and Infant Mental Health (IMH).


    • Some organisations have a lead/specialist health visitor/s in PMH and IMH who have the relevant qualifications, training and experience to provide leadership and meet high-level educational, clinical and strategic objectives relating to PMH and IMH. This position plays a crucial role within multi-disciplinary pathways to deliver effective care to women and their families.

If you would like further information about health visiting, please see:

    1. Specialist Health Visitors in Perinatal & Infant Mental Health: What they do and why it matters (Health Education England)
    2. Institute of Health Visiting’s website
    3. Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board: 2020–2021 Delivery Plan (Scottish Government)

If you are aware of any resources it would be useful to add, please email


Next: maternity services →