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Developing a perinatal mental health module: An integrated care approach

02 February 2016
10 min read
Volume 24 · Issue 2

Abstract

Midwives have a key role in identifying women at risk of perinatal mental health problems, referring to specialist services, planning care where appropriate, and supporting women and their families. Current guidelines and standards do not place an emphasis on perinatal mental health care as central to the training of student midwives in the UK. Research has shown that midwifery students and midwives do not feel skilled in this aspect of their role. At the University of Surrey, a programme-specific perinatal mental health module was developed for student midwives in the second year of their pre-registration programme, which has been well evaluated. Service users and specialist mental health practitioners have been involved in developing and teaching the module, and the content is reviewed annually to reflect national policy drivers.

Perinatal mental health (PMH) relates to the emotional health and wellbeing of a woman from conception until 1 year following birth. Midwives have a key role in identifying at-risk women, acting effectively in referring and planning care where appropriate, and supporting women and their families. The current Standards for pre-registration midwifery education (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2009) do not place an emphasis on PMH care as being central to the training of student midwives in the UK. This is reflected in the findings of studies which suggest that students and midwives do not feel skilled in this aspect of their role. A programme-specific PMH module was therefore developed for student midwives in the second year of their pre-registration programme at the University of Surrey, which has been well evaluated. This paper describes the module and includes the views of two final-year student midwives who have undertaken this module.

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