Occupational therapists are increasingly needed to support with perinatal healthcare, which is something that has been expanding over the last few years. While the physical health of both the mother and her newborn is obviously a high priority, it is becoming clear that the focus needs to be expanded to include mental health as well.
This is something that the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) is hoping to tackle with a new blended learning programme designed to train its members up on perinatal mental healthcare. The organisation has been commissioned to develop this by Health Education England (HEE).
As with all perinatal healthcare, this would involve supporting mothers throughout their pregnancy and for up to a year after the baby’s birth. This can be a difficult period in many mothers’ lives, and they can develop mental health issues as a result. Those with existing conditions might also find they become exacerbated.
Dr Sally Payne, the RCOT’s professional adviser for children and young people, will be leading on the programme’s development. She said: “The expansion of perinatal mental health services has seen a rapid increase in the occupational therapy workforce, but we know that profession-specific training has not kept up with that growth.
“We are delighted to receive this funding and look forward to helping meet the burgeoning need of new and experienced professionals alike.”
To begin this training programme, the RCOT will conduct a survey to determine what occupational therapists already know. It will then create a series of training events, as well as resources for e-learning.
The RCOT is increasing support for perinatal care across the board for its members. A successful networking event was held in March, and the organisation is also developing a new clinical forum focusing on mental health.
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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