Perinatal and infant mental health training programme

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Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) programme for perinatal and infant mental health awareness.


This programme is being delivered by health visitors and midwives trained as Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Champions by the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV). This is on behalf of NHS Education for Scotland as part of the NES contribution to the Scottish Government Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board delivery plan, and is in line with the NES Perinatal mental health curricular framework.   

The 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 

What is an iHV Champion?

Champions are place based leaders with attributes of: 

  • a passion for the subject area  

  • skills and knowledge in PIMH 

  • an aptitude for teaching their colleagues (not necessarily a formal qualification but experience and confidence to teach groups) 

  • an ability to organise training events and deliver a cascade of the iHV PIMH training package 

  • the support of their organisation to deliver a cascade of PIMH awareness training - virtual and face to face resources are available (for a flexible delivery of a 2 day programme) 

Programme Content

Below are listed the different elements of the programme and their content. 

Perinatal Mental Health and why it matters:

  • Definition and prevalence of perinatal mental health problems
  • National context for perinatal mental health: policy and research; impact of Perinatal Mental Health Problems on the mother, father, infant, child and the cost to wider society 
  • Importance of the antenatal period across the life course 
  • Mental health conditions 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Psychoses 

Recognition and detection of Perinatal Mental Health Problems:

  • Assessment 
  • Challenges of assessing mental health
  • Equality and diversity 
  • Stigma

Transition to parenthood and building relationships:

  • Define infant mental health 
  • Explain why infant mental health is a public health priority
  • Explore prenatal influences on infant mental health, including women and men’s transition to parenthood  
  • Significance of parental bonding and sensitive, reflective interactions in building secure infant attachment
  • Importance of infant regulatory function and contingent responses to infant initiatives

Infant observation and parallel procesess:

  • “Baby States” model to engage in baby watching  
  • Recognise and reflect with parents when interactions are too much, too little or just right  
  • Principles of attunement with parents - drawing parallels between the parent-infant and the parent-professional relationship

Safeguarding and risk: 

  • Suicide and self-harm 
  • Safeguarding

Everyone's business: your role, communication and interventions:

  • Communication skills 
  • Interventions, including therapeutic and pharmacological approaches 
  • When to refer
Accessing online training

1. Consider where you will access the training on your booked dates

The virtual training programme is a live online delivery. We ask that you treat this training opportunity as you would a face-to-face training event. They are full day events. You will need: 

  • To join alone - our experience tells us that colleagues who have joined together using the same screen find it harder to see the slides and engage with other participants. 

  • A quiet and comfortable space to take part - shared offices or clinical spaces may not be suitable due to noise or other possible distractions. If you are able to work from a private workspace or your home for the event this may be helpful.  

  • A reliable internet connection - the training is being delivered live so you will need dependable internet access for the duration of the event.  

  • A device with a video camera/webcam e.g. a laptop or a desktop PC with a webcam - this is essential to enable you to engage fully in the session as you need to see and be seen, particularly during group activities.  

Not recommended:  

iPads/tablets - can lose charge, overheat and won’t give you a view of all the other participants or give access to key functions needed.  

Smartphones - screens are too small for the slides or films and are not permitted. 

2. Access to the online platform

Ensure that you can access the online platform being used for delivery of the training. You will need a camera and microphone so that you can see the facilitators and be seen and heard in the session

What happens next?

1. Pre-training evaluation

Once you have a confirmed place please complete this online evaluation survey prior to the training. This should take you no more than 5 mins to complete.

2. Pre-training preparation

You will be sent some pre-training preparation once your place is confirmed. You will also be asked to read a policy document ahead of an activity within the training. Please schedule at least 20 mins to complete this pre-work. 

3. Check you have the link for the online training

Please ensure that you have this and that you join on time to support your Champion to deliver a prompt start to their training event. Remember this may be the first session they have delivered on this programme - give them all your support, contribute your thoughts to discussions and be responsive to timing requests for activities throughout for a positive day. 

4. Following training

Your Champion will ask you to complete this post-training evaluation of their session. Please access following the session and support the Champions by doing it promptly after training.    

The information is required by NHS Education for Scotland as part of the broader evaluation of outcomes for the training.  
Thanks for your support - we believe there is no health without good mental health, and we are delighted you will be attending. We really hope you will enjoy the training.