Perinatal Mental Health - e-Learning for Healthcare
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This programme is in partnership with...
  • Institute for Health Visiting
  • Department of Health
  • Royal College of General Pracitioners
  • Royal College of Occupational Therapists

About the Perinatal Mental Health programme

The Perinatal Mental Health programme has been designed to help educate and increase awareness of issues arising from mental health.

This programme currently provides three courses, Perinatal Mental Health for Health Visitors, Perinatal Mental Health for Occupational Therapists and Perinatal Mental Health.

The Perinatal Mental Health for Health Visitors and the Perinatal Mental Health courses are currently being reviewed and updated. These changes will be launched later in the year.

Perinatal Mental Health for Health Visitors

In the Health Visitor Implementation Plan 2011-15 – A Call to Action, published by Ministers on 8 February 2011, the government committed to developing a larger, re-energised health visiting service.

The Health Visitor Implementation Plan contains core aims to “improve opportunities to use the full range of health visitor skills and re-emphasise health visitors as key public health professionals” and to “ensure a strong focus on responding to differential needs and improving outcomes, and that systems promote effective join-up between services in ways that best meet local needs”. Training Health Visitors to identify and treat postnatal depression, including making referrals to specialist counselling, is a key driver of these aims.

Training Health Visitors to identify and treat postnatal depression was the focus of a major announcement by the Secretary of State (May 2012), with the Department of Health press release stating “these key healthcare professionals will be able to access new evidence and training so they can identify and support women with postnatal depression”.

Postpartum depression is currently poorly identified and therefore often untreated, and therefore is a significant area for public health improvement. Training of Health Visitors is an effective intervention to bring about this improvement.

The 3 e-learning modules developed by the Institute of Health Visiting, funded by the Department of Health look at;

  • Module One
    Perinatal depression and other maternal mental health disorders
  • Module Two
    How to recognise perinatal anxiety and depression
  • Module Three
    Interventions for perinatal anxiety, depression and related disorders

The 3 modules include videos, case studies, links to aid learning and questions to test your knowledge of the subjects and reflect on your learning.


Perinatal Mental Health

This course was added as a result of the Mental Health Awareness Programme, which includes e-learning from several projects, all focused on increasing awareness of Mental Health in different disciplines.

The Department of Health have mandated Health Education England (HEE) to develop an e-learning resource in the field of Perinatal Mental Health. HEE has developed a set of five 20 to 30 minute e-learning sessions. The sessions assume no prior knowledge of perinatal psychiatry and are designed to be accessed by any health care professional that has contact with a mother or baby from the period prior to conception until the child is 1 year of age.

All content is referenced and the learner is signposted to additional detailed learning resources for more advanced learning. The content and structure of the sessions were formally agreed during a stakeholder consultation exercise in May 2015. This included input from several Royal medical colleges including the RCN, RCGP, RCOG and RCPsych amongst others.

The sessions commence with 2 introductory sessions, which provide a broad overview of the topic and essential learning points for all health professionals. The 3 subsequent sessions focus on different stages in a mother’s journey – the pregnancy, birth and the first year of a child’s life. The subsequent sessions contain more detailed advice, which may be of more interest to particular professional groups, for example, obstetricians may choose to complete session 4 on labour and the immediate post-partum.

Perinatal Mental Health for Occupational Therapists

Training programme for occupational therapists working in perinatal mental health services.

This e-learning course is for occupational therapists working in perinatal mental health services and those who are new to or wishing to work in this specialist area of practice. It has been developed by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists in collaboration with Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare.

The course is part of a wider blended learning package for occupational therapists working in perinatal mental health and provides them with the information and skills they need to support women’s participation in activities that are important to them and their families, and to facilitate women’s recovery from perinatal mental health problems.

It is recommended that you access sessions 1, 2 and 3 on a laptop or desktop.

Each session includes information, case studies relating to the content of the session and a self-assessment to check participants’ knowledge and understanding. Links to additional information and resources are provided and participants are encouraged to create a ‘personal action plan’ detailing how they will continue their learning and develop their practice.

More information

The course content was written by a group of occupational therapy experts including clinicians, researchers and individuals with lived experience of perinatal mental health problems. Case studies are based on real life examples and include assessment/intervention plans written by experienced occupational therapists for participants to compare with their own. The course was peer reviewed by a wider group of occupational therapists and checked for quality and consistency by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ practice and professional development teams.

Perinatal Mental Health Competency Framework

HEE commissioned the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust to develop a skills competency framework for all staff working to support mothers and families across the perinatal care pathway, from preconception to postnatal care.

The framework is designed to increase general awareness of perinatal mental health disorders and associated care skills, supporting advanced and specialist practice.  Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviours that deliver high quality care and enable the continuous improvement of services. The framework has been developed to standardise competencies for perinatal mental health practice across England. This will help to ensure the workforce is confident and suitably skilled to identify need and deliver care to women who have mental health problems during the perinatal period, thereby increasing access to appropriate evidence-based specialist treatment.

This framework lists several competencies over separate domains and is divided into categories for different types of healthcare worker; including those who have limited infrequent contact, to those who work in specialist perinatal services. Over time, this competency framework may be used for recruitment, training and development, and discussions about career progression.

A review has been recently undertaken (Feb 2020) around usage of this framework. Further improvements will be made in due course to improve access.

Project team for Perinatal Mental Health for Health Visitors

  • Pauline Watts

    Pauline Watts

    Nursing Professional Officer/Clinical Advisor Nursing, National Health Visitor Programme and Dementia, Public Health Directorate, Department of Health
  • Mark Millar

    Project Manager, e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Cheryll Adams

    Cheryll Adams

    Institute of Health Visiting

Project team for Perinatal Mental Health

  • Dr Judy Shakespear

    Dr Judy Shakespear

    Clinical Lead, Health Education England
  • Dr Nicole Eady

    Dr Nicole Eady

    Clinical Lead, Health Education England
  • Jonathan Guy

    Project Manager, e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Scott Mountifield

    Lead Instructional Designer, e-Learning for Healthcare

Project team for Perinatal Mental Health for Occupational Therapists

  • Dr Sally Payne, Professional Adviser, Royal College of Occupational Therapists

    Professional Adviser, Royal College of Occupational Therapists
  • Leanne Davies

    Specialist Occupational Therapist, Cheshire and Mersey Specialist Perinatal Service, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sarah Maris

    Sarah Maris-Shaw

    Occupational Therapist, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
  • Jo Maitland

    Jo Maitland

    Perinatal Mental Health Training and Service Development Lead & London Perinatal Mental Health Network Coordinator, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mandy Graham

    Mandy Graham

    Occupational Therapy Senior Lecturer / Admissions Tutor, Leeds Beckett University
  • Clare Hooper

    Clare Hooper

    Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Amy Doyle

    Amy Doyle

    Perinatal Occupational Therapist, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
  • Rachael Coates

    Rachael Coates

    Specialist Perinatal Occupational Therapist, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
  • Anne Segalini

    Anne Segalini

    Professional Lead Advisor in Occupational Therapy, UK Ministry of Defence
  • Ben Harris

    Ben Harris

    Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
  • Clair Guy

    Clair Guy

    Project Manager, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Stephen Gibbons

    Stephen Gibbons

    Instructional Designer, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Tracy Watkins

    Tracy Watkins

    Instructional Designer, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • e-LfH staff - Rashmi Chavda

    Rashmi Chavda

    Graphic Designer, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • e-LfH-staff-Alex-Drinkall-learning-profile

    Alex Drinkall

    Stakeholder Manager, HEE e-Learning for Healthcare
  • Zena Wynn-Jones

    Zena Wynn-Jones

    Stakeholder and Engagement Manager, National Mental Health Programme
  • Bev Taylor

    Bev Taylor

    Stakeholder and Engagement Manager, Royal College of Occupational Therapists

How to access

In order to access any e-LfH programme, you will need an e-LfH account. If you do not have one, then you can register by selecting the Register button below.

Register >

If you already have an account with e-LfH, then you can enrol on to the Perinatal Mental Health programme by logging in to the e-LfH Hub, selecting My Account > Enrolment and selecting the programme. You can then access the programme immediately in the My e-Learning section.

Access for NHS healthcare staff in England

The Perinatal Mental Health programme is also available to NHS healthcare staff via the Electronic Staff Record (ESR). Accessing this e-Learning via ESR means that your completions will transfer with you throughout your NHS career.

Further details are available here.

e-LfH is a Health Education England Programme in partnership with the NHS and Professional Bodies