RCM asks for members’ support in developing a national picture of perinatal mental health support

on 21 February 2023 Midwifery Midwives Midwifery Workforce Maternity Services NHS Government MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Pay and Agenda For Change Maternal Mental health Perinatal Mental Health Specialist Mental Health Midwives

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is asking midwives and maternity support workers across the UK to help develop its perinatal mental health strategy. The RCM wants to get a sense of perinatal mental health support across different areas, regions and nations as it draws up a new strategy to inform and influence the debate around the provision of this vital service.

The strategy will look at how perinatal mental health is currently delivered in the UK and what changes are needed to give midwives the tools and resources they need, so that they can improve the perinatal mental health landscape in the UK.

In addition to targeted focus groups, the RCM has launched a survey which it is encouraging its members to complete. The survey asks what is working well, what are the challenges, and where are the gaps in the perinatal mental health care they provide.

Commenting on the survey, RCM Director for Midwifery Policy and Practice, Sally Ashton-May said: “Perinatal mental illness affects one in four women during pregnancy and after birth, disproportionally affecting Black and Asian women. Clearly the impact of poor perinatal mental health can be devastating as a number of recent reports show. If midwives can provide mental health support to pregnant women and women in the postnatal period, this will pay dividends for the baby’s own mental health and development into the future.

“Yet access to perinatal support varies widely, and is exacerbated by the shortages of midwives and MSWs. That’s why we are creating a new perinatal mental health strategy. We want to inform the debate, our own work and influence policy makers and service providers to make the right choices to transform the perinatal mental health care in the UK.

“We want to start highlighting the challenges midwives face around providing mental health care by creating a perinatal mental health strategy. We need your help do this and that’s why it’s vital you complete our survey. It only takes a few minutes, and the points you make will help shape our strategy and inform perinatal mental health care for years to come.”

The survey will run until 13 March – you can take it here.