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08.11.19

RCM Scotland are calling for more advanced perinatal mental health training

Scottish midwives are calling for more advanced training, specifically around perinatal mental health (PMH) to improve support they can give to pregnant women and new mothers.

A new survey of midwives, looking into how prepared midwives are to support women with PMH issues, shows that they struggle to get the training they need.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in Scotland published the survey today (8 Nov) at its perinatal mental health conference in Hamilton.

414 midwives from all areas of Scotland took part and each area of practice was represented.

Almost all (97%) respondents to the survey said they wanted more education on responding to women’s PMH needs, and eight in ten (79%) want additional training on how to assess women’s PMH needs.  

Statistics show that around 15-20% of women develop postnatal depression and anxiety, with suicide the leading cause of death in the first year after pregnancy.

Midwives in Scotland have placed women’s perinatal mental health problems among their most important priorities, and the survey outlines their want for further high-quality training to offer better care.

By not having sufficient training, midwives are struggling to feel confident enough to support women dealing with these issues as nearly a third (31%) said they were not at all confident with their understanding on PMH.

RCM Scotland have responded to the survey with three main recommendations to tackle the issue, these are:

  • Easily accessible education regarding time, finance and practicality
  • Specific PMH education before and after midwife qualification
  • The prioritising of resources and funding to ensure midwives have the knowledge and confidence to support patients.

Mary Ross-Davie, director for Scotland at the Royal College of Midwives, said:

“All maternity care providers need to put mental health on an equal footing with physical wellbeing. Not getting this right can have a direct impact on a woman’s experience of pregnancy, birth and early parenting.”

“Scotland’s midwives are dedicated to offering women with perinatal mental health problems the best possible care and support. Yet we are sometimes hampered by a lack of access to training and development to be able to do that as well as we want. This worries me greatly.”

“Our services are among the best in the UK, if not the world and the Scottish Government are making great efforts to improve the support and care for all women and for women with mental health problems. This includes additional money to improve services including more specialist mental health midwives. At the same time, we need to ensure that all of our midwives have the training they need so that women get the best possible care all the way through their pregnancy and beyond.”

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