About the Building Capacity Project

Supporting specialist perinatal mental health services to help mothers and families get the care and mental health support they need along the perinatal pathway from preconception to postnatal care.

This project supports the commitments of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health and the NHS Long Term Plan, specifically the commitment to enhance and widen access to specialist services through skills development programmes, building workforce capacity and capability.

The Building Capacity in Perinatal Psychiatry  £1.4m project to initially train 10 consultants but the programme was expanded to reach 715 participants to date.

Health Education England funded the Royal College of Psychiatrists to deliver masterclass programmes consultants (current, new and SAS) and senior trainees in Perinatal Psychiatry: In support of Perinatal Mental Health Services in England. ​

All programmes developed in support of key issues fundamental to delivering PMH services: Expert speakers/facilitators will develop and provide ILOs, mandatory reading and recommended reading per session​

As off March 2020 the masterclass programmes have been delivered by a virtual model due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Building Capacity in Perinatal Psychiatry Project: Skills Development Training Programmes; Impact and Assessment Report 

This report provides an opportunity for past attendees to reflect on their experience and the impact the programme has had on developing clinical skills, and more broadly how this support has impacted ability to communicate and advocate on behalf of the perinatal service. It includes commentary from lived experience representatives and service leaders, specifically those who supported consultants and senior trainees to partake in the programme, were asked to submit their views on how this model has delivered specialist skills and how that supports, in the long term, sustaining specialist perinatal services

The full report can be read here

The Credential Pathway 

Credential in Perinatal Psychiatry flow diagram

Workforce development

  • Deliver a mechanism to support and evidence a flexible workforce
  • Support specialist services with a skills development programme
  • Develop a specialist workforce for new and enhanced services 

Pilot programme

  • Recruit a cohort of senior trainees and consultants
  • Applicants are required to evidence eligibility, intent and Trust/supervisor support
  • Specific targeting of nationally-funded sites to ensure key services benefit from the skills development programme

Support mechanisms

  • Academic training via a series of masterclasses
  • On-site mentor support
  • Underpinned by a competency framework aligned to intended learning outcomes (ILOs)

Evidence of competency  

  • Demonstration of skills, knowledge and experience, aligned to ILOs, via an ePortfolio
  • Reviewed by an expert panel with user and clinical representation 

Read the full report for Evidencing a Credential in Perinatal Psychiatry.

A multidisciplinary capabilities framework underpinning a credential in perinatal mental health: Supporting the development of specialist skills required across a multidisciplinary setting 

  • The original scoping report recommended a high-level outcomes framework to support a mulitdisciplinery credential, reflecting the expansion of the service pathway and the specialist skills required to deliver specialist perinatal mental health services.
  • The Project has delivered a capability framework to support and underpin a credential with detailed respective behaviours and expected outcomes for women. 

The Capability Approach 

1. Mental disorders in the perinatal period: 

  • Demonstrate specialist knowledge of conditions affecting women of childbearing potential and in the perinatal period.
  • Deliver pre-conception care, counselling and pre-birth planning.
  • Collaborative working.
  • Communication.
  • Voice of the woman

2. Risk assessment in the perinatal period: 

  • Identify, assess, manage, treat, and recognise the potential risk of relapse for pre-existing disorders
  • Identify individual factors that increase risk.
  • Risk to self. Risk to fetus/infant/child.

3.  Safeguarding vulnerable women and children: 

  • Challenges, responsibility and care.
  • Consider and act to address, the impact of parental mental illness on the development, wellbeing and safety of the child and on parenting capacity in each individual case.
  • Recognise and act in relation to domestic violence/abuse in the perinatal period.
  • Implement relevant legal frameworks in practice. Proactive, multiagency working to identify women and children who are experiencing, or who at risk of abuse or neglect.

4. Parent-infant relationship: 

  • Parent-infant relationship:
  • Support mothers (and partners/carers) in responding to the evolving care and developmental needs of their baby/infant/toddler.
  • To minimise ongoing risk for women with mental health problems who are more vulnerable in their caregiving context.
  • Mitigate the transgenerational effects of perinatal mental disorders.

5. Prescribing: 

  • The role of medical and non-medical recommendations.
  • Ability to safely, effectively and appropriately use psychotropic medication in pregnancy and in breastfeeding

6. Psychological interventions: 

  • Psychological therapies for women with personality disorder depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, birth trauma in the perinatal period.
  • Parent-infant, couple, co-parenting and family interventions to support a whole family approach.

7. Service development and leadership:

  • Deliver individualised care though service sustainability and supporting adaptive mulitdisciplinery delivery systems.
  • Co-production in perinatal mental health services

Perinatal psychiatrists, women with lived experience of perinatal mental illness, and their partners collaborated on a collection of perinatal mental health leaflets which were published for this project.

These eight titles are evidence-based and provide expert information in simple and uncomplex words. 

They cover  the complexity of issues impacting women throughout the perinatal period, such as outlining what perinatal services are in a community setting, what an mother and baby unit is, and when and why a woman would be referred to it.

These eight leaflets can be found below: 

Read more to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry