More families struggling with poverty and poor mental health, says iHV

Posted By: Amy Tubb

18th January 2024

  • Report
  • Inequalities
  • Services
  • Research
  • Health visiting

1 minute read

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), a member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), has just released their findings from the UK’s biggest survey of frontline health visitors.

According to their research, nearly all UK health visitors (93%) have observed a rise in poverty in the past 12 months, impacting families' ability to heat their homes, feed their children and travel to crucial health appointments. iHV has raised concerns that these struggles are invisible to other services and often go unnoticed until they escalate into a crisis.

It doesn’t have to be this way, change is possible.

Alison Morton, CEO of the Institute of Health Visiting

Other notable findings include:

Only 3% of health visitors surveyed said families were not affected by the cost-of-living crisis, while others said poverty has become so widespread that it is considered “the norm”. There is significant worry among health visitors about the widening health inequalities in England and the fact that the cost-of-living situation appears to be getting worse.

Consistently, health visitors have told us that parenting has become much harder for many families over the last 12 months. Health visitors are in a privileged position, they see firsthand the struggles that families with babies and young children are facing, often hidden behind front doors and invisible to other services.

Alison Morton, CEO of the Institute of Health Visiting

Despite health visitors’ best efforts, they find they are not able to meet the rising level of need and complexity, partly due to ongoing cuts to the workforce. iHV reports a current national shortage of around 5,000 health visitors in England and a postcode lottery of support.

Reflecting on today’s findings, MMHA’s Chief Executive, Laura Seebohm said:

"The findings from iHV might not shock those working with families, but their weight is undeniable. The report reveals a profession under tremendous strain but one with the expertise, desire and enormous potential to bring about brighter futures for both parents and children. Urgent steps must be taken to boost health visitor numbers, ensuring that no issues slip through the cracks, and our most vulnerable families receive the community support they desperately need."

Visit the iHV website for information about what they think needs to change.

Download the full report

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