Perinatal mental health training in NI still going strong after six years

Northern Ireland news, Press release
27 March 2024

A unique project which sees professionals working in all five health Trusts come together to learn more about perinatal mental illness, took place in Belfast this week.

Now in its sixth year, it’s the twelfth event which aims to upskill those working with pregnant or postnatal mothers who have a current or are at high risk of developing significant mental illness.

Around 70 delegates attended the latest round and were given training on how to identify, treat and support mothers during pregnancy and following birth.

Midwives, health visitors, social workers, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists were among the professional staff who received specialist training delivered by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland working on behalf of the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Health Minister, Robin Swann delivered an opening address at the event. He said:

”The work of our community teams is massively important in delivering perinatal mental health services in Northern Ireland.

“That is why the Mental Health Strategy includes the continued rollout of specialist perinatal mental health services across the region as a key action.

“My department has also invested £4.7m to establish a new specialist perinatal mental health community service model for Northern Ireland. Work has also been going on within my department to take forward the delivery of a Mother and Baby Unit for the region.”

Dr Julie Anderson, consultant psychiatrist at RCPsych NI said:

“We’re delighted to have been running this programme, which has so far trained 600 participants.

“Pregnancy and the early postnatal period for many mothers is a fabulous time of life but it is a period in life when women are most at risk of developing a new mental illness or experience a relapse of a pre-existing one.

“This training is vital in helping educate health professionals on how to deal with the many mental health challenges a new mum may face.”

Mary Emerson, Lead AHP Consultant, PHA, added:

“It’s really important that we look after the mental health of mums-to-be and new mums, and that we provide health professionals with the skills and knowledge to support this.

“Having a baby is a major event in anyone’s life, and for some people this can result in mental ill-health, so we’re keen to support work to help address this.”

The training took place at the Hilton Hotel in Belfast on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 March.

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