A new course designed to help nurses, midwives and health visitors to improve services for women with maternal mental health problems is to be launched later this year by Sheffield Hallam University.
The university said the Post Graduate Certificate in Perinatal and Maternal Mental Health will be an opportunity for all health and social care professionals to gain skills that will allow them to “identify and intervene confidently” when working with women with mental health issues and their families.
“Women and their families are now presenting with more complex needs”
The one-year, distance learning course is to be launched in September. It will focus on mental health illnesses, their management in pregnancy and the postnatal period, where students will learn how to manage potential risks and complications.
It will also look at the impact of maternal mental health on infant and child development, the risks for safe-guarding and promoting positive outcomes.
Kirsty Schofield, course leader and senior lecturer in midwifery at Sheffield Hallam, suggested more clinicians should be qualified to deal with maternal and perinatal mental health due to demand.
“Women and their families are now presenting with more complex needs and more than one in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby,” she said.
“If untreated, these perinatal mental illnesses can have a devastating impact on the women affected and their families,” noted Ms Schofield.
“With increasing pressure within the health services as a whole, women are often being discharged from hospital earlier to receive continued support within the community,” she added.
She said the new course at Sheffield Hallam had been designed to bring together GPs, midwives, health visitors, mental health nurses, social workers and third sector professionals to encourage them to study together and learn from one another.
The overall goal was to create a “more integrated and efficient approach to perinatal and maternal mental health care”, she highlighted.
Sheffield Hallam University is one of the largest universities in the UK, with more than 31,500 students. It is also one of the country’s largest providers of health and social care courses.