#OTalk – 27th April 2021 – Perinatal Mental Health – an Occupational Approach in Journeys to Recovery

This chat will be hosted by Rachael Coates (@rachaelOTUK) and Sarah Maris-Shaw (@sarahmarisshaw)

Following the recognition of significant inequality in access to perinatal mental health care across the UK, the Government committed to 3 waves of funding to increase access to services. Since 2015, a vast investment has been made, and there are now 21 mother and baby inpatient units and 80% of England has access to some form of perinatal mental health service. This service expansion has produced a rapid increase in occupational therapy posts and has required occupational therapists to upskill quickly, considering both the mother, baby and their relationship in their day to day practice. An occupational approach to supporting those in the perinatal period is very relevant and reflected in the rate at which the specialism is growing. Significant changes in daily routines, responsibilities, associated roles, and relationship are commonplace in the journey to motherhood, with associated occupational imbalance and deprivation being common.

Working with Health Education England, RCOT have addressed some of the training needs of those who are new into post and those wanting support and direction in their role through the development of an E-Learning training programme. In addition, the RCOT Specialist Section for Mental Health launched the Perinatal clinical forum in 2019. The long term plan 2019 also pledged to align provision with the 1001 day campaign to provide support to those with mental health issues from pre-conception until baby’s second birthday and recognising the support needs of partners within the family unit.

A few years on it is interesting to reflect on the diversity of our work, how the pandemic has influenced practice and what have we learnt from working with families in their journey. We are also keen to support the UK maternal mental health awareness week 3-9 May are interested in exploring the theme ‘Journeys to Recovery’. UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (perinatalmhpartnership.com)

  1. What is your priority as an occupational therapist when working with women during the perinatal period?
  2. What skills do you bring that others in team are not trained or aware of?
  3. What barriers do you face and how have you overcome them?
  4. What have you learnt that might help another OT working in perinatal mental health?
  5. Please share an example of a Journey to Recovery – what did occupational therapy add to this journey to recovery?


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