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How can ways of working with others be developed to improve perinatal mental health care?

02 March 2019
Volume 27 · Issue 3


There is a national drive to improve perinatal mental healthcare, as a significant proportion of maternal deaths are attributed to mental health problems. This report will evaluate how ways of working with others could be developed to improve perinatal mental healthcare, by linking theoretical frameworks and models to practice. There are many ways in which working together can improve perinatal mental healthcare, including partnering with other organisations such as charities to use available resources; developing interprofessional training sessions and communities of practice to enhance learning; encouraging collective leadership to support and motivate staff to advance healthcare practice; and encouraging effective teamwork to reiterate goals and build strong relationships. Systemic changes must be made to improve perinatal mental health care to address people's physical, social and psychological needs.

NHS England (National Maternity Review, 2016) has a national drive to provide better perinatal mental healthcare to significantly improve the wellbeing of women, babies and families. In 2016, 23% of maternal deaths were attributed to mental health causes; therefore, healthcare providers need to create guidelines to encourage professionals to work together in the best interests of women and babies (National Maternity Review, 2016). This article will evaluate how ways of working together could be used to improve perinatal mental healthcare, including partnership working, interprofessional training, communities of practice, collective leadership and effective teamwork. These theories and frameworks may be used to emphasise the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) vision for professionals to ‘make sure that [people's] physical, social and psychological needs are assessed and responded to’ (NMC, 2018:5).

Systems thinking theory illustrates how changing collaboration throughout the layers of an organisation can improve perinatal mental healthcare. Maternity services are made up of different teams that are interdependent, but not always successfully interconnected (Figure 1).

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