Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions
Health visitors are mandated in England to visit every family from pregnancy until their children start school. This places them in a unique position to influence the health of every mother, father and baby. It is therefore essential that all health visitors are trained to understand the significance of good perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH).
Since 2015, the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), a member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, has been delivering perinatal and infant mental health training to health visitors and other practitioners through the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions project. Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions are expected to cascade the training to other colleagues in their area. However, we have also found that it equips them as leaders and ambassadors for perinatal and infant mental health in their workplaces. Following the training, Champions have, for example, set up therapeutic groups, created multi-professional pathways and partnerships, and improved referral pathways for women with perinatal mental health problems.
What has happened so far?
The Institute has trained 573 Health Visitor Perinatal Mental Health Champions and 298 Health Visitor Infant Mental Health Champions. These Champions have then gone on to train well over 10,000 other health visitors, and other health and local authority professionals and voluntary workers using the skills and competencies they have learnt. The Institute has provided them with ongoing support through regional forums, online forums, action learning sets and development days.
The Champions project has now developed to include a wider range of training options aimed at different professions such as midwifery, general practice, obstetrics, social work, early years mental health and psychiatry. This training has been delivered to hundreds of healthcare professionals as there are now over 550 Multi-agency Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions.
The iHV’s Perinatal Mental Health and Perinatal & Infant Mental Health Champions programmes are accredited and can be delivered uni-professionally or multi-agency.
iHV Training programmes include:
- Integrated Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Champions Programme
- Maternity Champions Programme
- Fathers and Perinatal Mental Health Champions Programme
- Multi-agency Perinatal Mental Health Champions Programme
- One Day or Half Day Perinatal Mental Health/Perinatal Infant Mental Health/Infant Mental Health Awareness Training
Details on the training programmes can be found here: https://ihv.org.uk/training-and-events/training-programme/
Find out more
Alongside work on the Champions programme, the iHV has also worked with other national experts to create a ‘top tips’ for mothers and fathers on perinatal mental health: https://ihv.org.uk/families/top-tips. For members, on the iHV’s website there are also good practice points for health visitors working with mothers and fathers suffering from perinatal mental illness www.ihv.org.uk
Melita Walker, Mental Health Lead, Institute of Health Visiting