Breakdown or breakthrough? How to support parents affected by mental health problems in the perinatal period

Without the right support, emotional breakdown can make it difficult for parents to love, nurture and care for their babies.

This series of 5 short films shows how to support parents affected by mental health problems to develop a secure attachment relationship with their baby. 

Breaking down taboos and focusing on real issues, the films will give you:

  • greater awareness and understanding of infant mental health
  • increased understanding of working with babies at risk of emotional and physical harm
  • more insight around how communications can break down in the most serious cases
  • a better grasp of how early intervention can prevent emotional harm of babies.

Author: NSPCC
Published: 2012

Breakdown or breakthrough? videos

Film 1: Breakdown or breakthrough

Through the voices of a health visitor, social workers and perinatal therapists, the film explores the challenges of working with babies at risk of harm.

Film 2: Growing an emotional brain

Explores how a parent’s emotional capacity to provide comfort can help build a baby’s self-esteem, and how an abusive or stressful relationship can cause damage.

Film 3: The emotional life of a baby

Compares two babies in very different circumstances to demonstrate how the earlier help is offered, the more likely it is that emotional harm will be prevented.

Film 4: Breaking the cycle

Demonstrates how parents who have suffered repeated abuse at the hands of a partner can leave the abusive relationship and nurture their baby safely.

Film 5: The forgotten father

Explores the role of the father. The film has one simple message: do professionals make the effort to speak to fathers on their own?

Other publications or resources

All Babies Count: spotlight on the criminal justice system - an unfair sentence

This report, in collaboration with Barnardo’s, looks at how the criminal justice system can impact on pregnancy and babies, and what can be done to help.
Find out more

All Babies Count: spotlight on perinatal mental health - prevention in mind

Report on how mental illnesses affects women during pregnancy and after birth, and improvements that can be made to identify, treat and prevent it.
Find out more

All Babies Count: support for parents

Guide for new parents on how to calm babies, manage stress and spot the signs of post-natal depression.
Find out more

All Babies Count: prevention and protection for vulnerable babies

Reviews the current research on the vulnerability of babies to abuse and neglect and presents analysis of the risk factors and suggestions for early intervention.
Find out more

The social baby

A DVD to help new parents understand how babies communicate from birth.
Find out more


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