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A new course that will help to improve services for women with maternal mental health problems has been designed by Sheffield Hallam University.

Launching in September 2017, the Post Graduate Certificate in Perinatal and Maternal Mental Health will be an opportunity for health and social care professionals across all organisations and agencies to gain skills that will allow them to identify and intervene confidently when working with women with mental health issues and their families.

As part of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, Kirsty Schofield, course leader and senior lecturer in midwifery at Sheffield Hallam, is calling for more practitioners to be qualified to deal with maternal and perinatal mental health following an increased prevalence in complex mental health conditions during pregnancy.

"Tackling maternal mental health is one of the World Health Organisation's primary goals," said Kirsty. "Women and their families are now presenting with more complex needs and more than one in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby. If untreated, these perinatal mental illnesses can have a devastating impact on the women affected and their families.

"With increasing pressure within the health services as a whole, women are often being discharged from hospital earlier to receive continued support within the community. 

"This new course at Sheffield Hallam University has been designed to bring together practitioners, who regularly work with women and families such as; GPs, midwives, health visitors, mental health nurses, social workers and third sector professionals to encourage them to study together and learn from one another to create a more integrated and efficient approach to perinatal and maternal mental health care."

The one-year, distance learning course will focus on mental health illnesses, their management in pregnancy and the postnatal period where students will learn how to manage potential risks and complications.

It will also look at the impact of maternal mental health on infant and child development, the risks for safe-guarding and promoting positive outcomes.

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email