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Midwives’ experiences of supporting women's mental health: A mixed-method study

Savory, N. A. ORCID:, Sanders, J. ORCID: and Hannigan, B. ORCID: 2022. Midwives’ experiences of supporting women's mental health: A mixed-method study. Midwifery 111 , 103368. 10.1016/j.midw.2022.103368

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Objective To explore midwives’ skills, knowledge and experiences of supporting women's mental health. Research design and setting This paper reports the second phase of a larger project, the ‘Mothers’ Mood Study’, which recruited women and midwives to explore their experiences of perinatal mental health and service provision and focuses on midwives’ experiences of supporting women with perinatal mental health problems. This paper reports on midwives’ experiences through self-administered questionnaires and focus groups. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse questionnaire data and focus group data were thematically analysed. Participants All midwives employed at one Health Board in South Wales UK, were eligible to participate. Recruitment took place between February and October 2018. Questionnaires were completed by 145 midwives and 15 attended one of three focus groups. Findings Questionnaire data showed the majority of midwives had cared for women with mental health problems, most commonly anxiety (95.0%, n = 138) and depression (87.0%, n = 127). Midwives assessed women's mental health informally by observing or asking questions about mood (99.3%, n = 144), anxiety levels (94.5%, n = 137), levels of support (91.0%, n = 132) and mental health history (95.9%, n = 139). The majority of midwives (82.8%, n = 120) indicated they would make some sort of mental health assessment at least 50% of the time. Around a third of midwives 31.7% (n = 46) reported receiving training relating to perinatal mental health in the previous two years, however only 21.4% (n = 31) of these suggested this had helped them in their practice. Three themes were generated from the focus groups, 1) Conversations 2) Support 3) Knowledge and skills. Key conclusions and implications for practice A lack of time and continuity at appointments and a focus on physical health of mother and baby reduced the opportunity for conversations around mental health. In addition a lack of experience reduced midwives’ confidence resulting in a low threshold for referring women to other services for support. Midwives’ main concerns were a need for training on aspects of day-to-day practice and referral options to support women's mental health. A package of training to improved skills and confidence as well as a clear pathway of care will enable midwives to be better placed to support women's mental health.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Start Date: 2023-05-24
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0266-6138
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 June 2022
Date of Acceptance: 9 May 2022
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2023 09:30

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