World Mental Health Day

By Lydia O'Neill, Digital Content Creator on 10 October 2021 Midwifery Midwives RCM Caring For You campaign

On World Mental Health Day, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is calling on the Government to improve maternity services and asking employers, activists and branches to renew the Caring for You initiative in their units so that the health, safety and wellbeing of maternity staff can improve.

Earlier this week, the RCM released its findings from the annual all member survey on experiences at work. The results show the alarming levels of dissatisfaction from staffing levels, poor pay and lack of investment into maternity services. These experiences of being overworked and underpaid are affecting the mental health of RCM members.

The RCM is calling on the Government to look at these figures and work with the union and NHS employers to improve recruitment and retention and consequentially the experience of existing staff.  

On World Mental Health Day, the RCM is supporting members through its Caring for You, initiative that sees all maternity units taking vital steps towards looking after staff health, safety and wellbeing. From keeping staff hydrated to seeking expert support for a mental disorder, the Caring for You campaign calls on employers to break the stigma around mental health in maternity.

The RCM is also shining light on the mounting pressures outside of work that are impacting the wellbeing of maternity staff. The rising fuel costs, the removal of the Universal Credit uplift and the disappointing pay award are putting people under financial strain too. The RCM is encouraging members facing financial hardship to apply to Cavell Nurses’ Trust, which offers financial support to midwives and maternity support workers.

The RCM’s Executive Director for Services to Members, Suzanne Tyler said: “For World Mental Health Day, we are urging members to have a conversation about mental health, check in with those around you and ask twice if someone needs support. We know that the growing pressures in maternity services are pushing midwives and maternity support workers to breaking point and beyond. Investment in recruitment and retention is key but it is a process. We need investment in health, safety and wellbeing now.

“Our Caring for You campaign highlights some short fixes to help those that need it most. Making sure someone has a break, that they keep hydrated and rest their feet – or checking in with a colleague and friend and listening to them. These are small but effective exercises we can use to keep the wellbeing of staff on the agenda every day.”

There is a list of mental health and workplace resources via the Caring for You hub.