New Perinatal mental health care course

(This is a post by Pam Morley, Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University)

Many people are aware of possible mental health problems associated with pregnancy but do people realise how destructive these can be?  Suicide in the perinatal period is the highest cause of maternal death in the UK.  Also, maternal depression prior to the baby’s birth can increase the risk of birth complications and poorer birth outcomes, including higher rates of spontaneous abortion, low birth weight babies and developmental delay.  Again, anxiety in the mother has been shown to be linked to poorer child health and behavioural difficulties at the age of four years.

National Perinatal Mental Health Project

The National Perinatal Mental Health Project Report, published by the Mental Health Development Unit on 8th March 2011 examines provision of mental health care for women who are planning to have a baby, are pregnant or who have had a baby in the past year or so.  In particular the report examines the current provision of care for women in the Black and Ethnic Minority groups.  (

Seamless care?

As I was reading this report one finding struck me as being very significant; namely that 27 different professional groups may be involved in the care of women with mental health difficulties who are in the perinatal period.   How can all these different groups work together to provide seamless, efficient care?   After all, many of them will have been trained in different ways and use various theories to underpin their practice.

So, how can care be co-ordinated and dove-tailed together?  The answer is fairly straightforward, I think.  It is the mental health nurse who is at the hub of the multidisciplinary ‘wheel’ together with the service user.  It is the mental health nurse who spends time with the service user, who is the conduit through which messages are passed and information carried.  Perhaps we should be highlighting this aspect of our role much more.  Forget superconductors; just get a mental health nurse involved!

Post-graduate certificate in perinatal mental health at Birmingham City University

Seriously though, we should be promoting this aspect of our role, and giving it the value that it deserves.  Without the nurse to ‘glue’ the team together, care would be a lot more fragmented.  The importance of communication is a strong aspect of a new post-graduate certificate in perinatal mental health being run at Birmingham City University.   This is a brand new course, designed b y academics and clinicians together and aimed at any health care professionals who work with women in the perinatal period.  If you would like more information about the course, please email

(Pictures from Flickr creative commons click photos for more details re authors)

2 thoughts on “New Perinatal mental health care course

  1. Hello,
    I am delighted to hear you will be offering a certificate in Perinatal Mental Health. However, I suggest that the program would do well to extend into the postpartum period. As we all know Postpartum Depression/Psychosis continues to be both under diagnosed and under treated.
    I have worked extensively both in Psychiatry and Obstetrics during my nursing career. I know from first hand experience the difficulty of working with not just depressed but also severely mentally ill women in perinatal, intrapartum and postpartum stages of their pregnancy. I have always felt that this is an issue in women’s health that needs just what you are offering. Congratulations. Although I am retired and living in the Netherlands I would love to know more about this program.
    Best wishes,

  2. Hi Molly, thank you very much for your comments, and I do agree that mental health issues in pregnancy and post-partum are poorly recognised and therefore not treated effectively. If I can just make one point, you say that we should extend the course to cover the post-partum period, but we are already covering this period. The new course will examine a)helping women prepare for pregnancy in terms of changing medication that they may be taking and generally improving their mental health, b)mental health issues in pregnancy and c) mental health in the post-partum period in terms of depression and psychosis. I am really excited to be involved with this course because it is so all-encompassing. If you would like further information please email me at and I can send you one of our leaflets by email. It sounds as though you have had extensive experience in this area, and I would be interested in hearing more of your work.
    Take care, Pam.

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