On 23 September 2017, the iHV was invited to give a presentation at the European Midwives Association’s (EMA) annual conference, this year dedicated to Perinatal Mental Health (PMH). The conference, hosted by the national organisation of Spanish midwives known as Federacion de Asociaciónes de Matronas de España (FAME) in Madrid, was attended by high level representation from 35 European member states.
Melita Walker (iHV Perinatal Mental Health Lead) presented on behalf of the iHV on UK Policy and best practice in Perinatal Mental Health, discussing the UK approach to PMH and national policy and research direction for the UK.
The conference also heard from Mental Health Europe Director, Maria Nyman, who introduced the European landscape on Perinatal Mental Health, highlighting existing opportunities to further advance the issue at EU level. Presentations throughout the day shared good practice in PMH from across Europe and also the challenges faced by respective nations.
Following the formal presentations, Melita joined a working group to think through what the direction of travel should be in relation to PMH and the education and training for midwives. The agreed action from the workshop was that the EMA would develop a position statement on PMH that will enable the mental health of mothers and fathers to be seen as important as physical needs during the perinatal period. There was consensus that PMH should be a “red thread”, running through all midwifery care, not separate, or as an add-on, and that midwifery training should also be designed to integrate mental health alongside physical health.
Melita Walker commented:
“It was a privilege to represent the iHV at this event. The EMA is a fantastic organisation, dedicated to improving outcomes for women and their families. The Institute has worked closely with our colleagues in midwifery services and understands the important role they play in achieving good health outcomes, which is why we have recently developed our Maternity PMH Champions programme. It was wonderful for the iHV to support this event, to share our learning and to contribute to raising parity of esteem for mental health across a huge geographical area. PMH is immensely complex and no one agency can achieve good outcomes alone. It is only by working together, in partnership, that we will realise our collective aspirations for a mentally well society.”