Skip to main content

Specialist Health Visitors in Perinatal & Infant Mental Health: What they do and why they matter

Specialist Health Visitors in Perinatal & Infant Mental Health (PIMH) are health visitors with post qualifying training and experience that equips them to fulfil specialist clinical, consultative, training and strategic roles on behalf of health visiting services within the fields of Perinatal and Infant Mental Health. They have a crucial role within multi-disciplinary pathways delivering effective mental health care to mothers, fathers and their infants during the perinatal period and usually up to the baby’s second birthday or beyond. They provide specialist training and consultation to the wider health visiting and early years workforce, where they are highly valued. With properly funded, protected time for this work Specialists have been successful in establishing and developing services and integrated working, thereby improving outcomes for families. However, in spite of the significant increase in the health visitor workforce in recent years there are still few Specialist Health Visitors (PIMH) posts in health visiting teams across England. The recommendation of this working group is that every health visiting service should include at least one Specialist Health Visitor (PIMH).

This document explains what Specialist Health Visitors (PIMH) do, how they support the vital work of the wider health visitor workforce and why such posts are needed within all health visiting services. It is intended as a resource for health visitor managers and commissioners of health visiting services, who have responsibility for developing services in line with NHS priorities to improve training and develop wider expertise in Perinatal & Infant Mental Health. Where Specialist PIMH Health Visitor posts do exist there are variations in their role, level of post registration training, experience and banding. This document makes recommendations and provides a sample job description. We hope that it will aid discussions about funding priorities and lead to significant improvements in local provision, so that services can more effectively meet the needs of women in the perinatal period and their families.