Midwives’ mental health hit by pandemic

on 18 May 2020 RCM Midwifery MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Student midwives Caring For You campaign

As the UK focusses on emotional wellbeing during Mental Health Awareness Week, midwives say their mental health is being adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) shows over half (57 per cent) of midwives, maternity support workers (MSWs) and student midwives feel the current crisis has had a negative impact on their mental health.

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, said: “It’s not surprising that the enormous demands this crisis has put on maternity services is affecting mental health. Maternity staff are absolutely committed to continue providing safe services for women, babies and their families and are doing an incredible job. However, maintaining services does also put them under immense pressure. It is inevitably affecting their mental health as they cope and deal with the pressures of long and extremely busy shifts.”

Worryingly over a third (34 per cent) of respondents also felt that their employer was not giving them adequate support in the workplace. The RCM is working with NHS England's Behavioural Insights Team on a pilot programme aimed at boosting mental wellbeing. This will signpost the RCM’s midwife, MSW and student midwife members to services and support for those who need extra help with their mental health.

Gill Walton added: “Midwives do a wonderful job of supporting the mental health of the women in their care, especially now when they are feeling particularly anxious. What this survey shows is that we need to also think about the wellbeing of those working in maternity care as they work through this period. I know employers are working very hard to support their staff, but they must ensure their staff get the psychological help and support they need.The mental health of midwives is just as important as their physical health, and both must be cared for if they are to do their jobs and provide safe, high quality care.”



To contact the RCM media office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].

Note to editors

The survey was completed by 942 midwives, maternity support workers and student midwives across the UK between 21 and 28 April 2020.

This is part of the RCM’s Caring for You campaign. For more information on the campaign visit https://www.rcm.org.uk/supporting/getting-help/caring-for-you/.

For information on Mental Health Awareness Week visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week.

The RCM is also signposting its members to  NHS in Mind at https://www.nhsinmind.co.uk/. This is a free platform containing 8 easy-to-access, short interventions to help NHS staff alleviate and combat high anxiety, panic and fatigue at this time. 

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.