The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV)
The Institute of Health Visiting is a charity and a professional body established in 2012 to strengthen the quality and consistency of health visiting practice and services. Since then it has achieved a great deal, creating a raft of best practice guidance, events, and award-winning training in a variety of key public health areas. In addition, working in partnership with a range of government, professional and third sector partners to influence policy and reduce health inequalities for infants, children, and their families. The core purpose is to improve the lives of all babies, children and their families and reduce health inequalities.
Our National and International Work in Perinatal and Infant and Mental Health is a high priority for the organisation- we really do believe that there is no health without mental health! We are on a shared mission, to enable every baby, every child to be healthy, safe, happy, and valued and for every parent to feel supported and able to achieve this.
The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), has extensive perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) programmes for both uni-professional and multi-agency audiences. This includes perinatal mental health (PMH), infant mental health and combined PIMH awareness training, Fathers and Partners and the award winning Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Champions Training programmes. All of the courses can be delivered in the virtual space and face to face.
iHV PIMH Champion Forums provide on-going support and continued professional development for iHV PIMH Champions who have completed the training programme. The Forums are modelled on the principles of place-based leadership, enabling alignment with regional strategic clinical networks (SCNs) to integrate and improve local care pathways and services. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Forums have been delivered via Zoom. The successful virtual format will continue 2021 providing Champions with an opportunity to attend regular Forums and connect with colleagues throughout the UK.
These are iHV-involved research papers that have been published.
The Mental Health Team
Melita Walker is a pioneer iHV fellow and national lead for mental health with the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV). Melita has worked in a variety of roles in mental health and public health, across primary, secondary and third sector boundaries, including; crisis teams, early intervention services, community mental health teams, mental health inpatient units, primary care psychological services and health visiting. In addition, leading on research projects in practice development, quality assurance and pathways of care. Melita has successfully led on the development and delivery of the Institute’s perinatal and infant mental health programmes and is involved with a number of national committees including; the National Health Service Clinical Reference Group for Perinatal Mental Health, the Maternal Mental Health Alliance Campaign Development and Expert Reference Group for perinatal mental health and the First 1001 Days Steering Group.
Rachael Parker supports the iHV’s work across the national and international perinatal and infant mental health programme. Prior to joining the Institute Rachael worked as a public health specialist service manager, with extensive experience commissioning a range of children’s 0-19 public health services and development of specialist perinatal mental health services. She is a registered health visitor, mental health and learning disability nurse and has worked in clinical practice for many years in mental health, drug/alcohol and health visiting in the UK and in New Zealand.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT)
The National Childbirth Trust is the UK’s largest parenting charity, supporting parents during the first 1000 days of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. Their aim is to ensure that new parents and parents-to-be feel connected and supported during this major life transition. NCT support parents through its antenatal and postnatal courses, attended by over 100,000 expectant and new parents every year. The charity also runs services across the UK focused on supporting women and families facing specific challenges, such as social isolation and poor mental health. NCT provides information and advice to parents via its website, and infant feeding helpline. The charity also has a national network of volunteer-led branches providing support to over 700,000 parents a year through community-based activities and events.
The NCT has identified parental mental health as a priority area. Its recent Hidden Half Campaign raised the profile of mothers’ perinatal mental health, and the barriers to women receiving a timely diagnosis and treatment. This led to a commitment from the English government to fund separate postnatal GP checks for all mothers from April 2020. Over the past decade, NCT has developed services aimed at parents facing particular challenges. Its Parents in Mind and Birth and Beyond Community Support programmes provide peer support to pregnant women and new mothers experiencing mental health issues, or who are socially isolated and struggle to access services.
Agnes is NCT’s research and evaluation manager. She oversees NCT’s in-house evaluation work, with a particular focus on building the evidence base for perinatal peer support. This includes the recently published evaluation report on our Department of Health funded Parents in Mind project. She also oversees NCT’s programme of research, which involves collaborations with universities and other partner organisations. Alongside this project with the University of Surrey, she is currently working two studies focusing on perinatal mental health with City University, the MAP and Matrix studies, which are aimed at understanding and improving the identification, assessment and treatment of maternal mental illness. Before joining NCT, Agnes was a senior researcher with the McPin Foundation, a mental health research and evaluation charity, where she led on a number of research projects, including a service-user focused evaluation of IAPT services for people with severe mental illness. Her academic background is in social anthropology and ethnographic research methods.