Zoe shared findings from qualitative interviews with dads in the postnatal period, highlighting how fathers felt conflicted that naturally - maternity services needed to focus on the mother, but they often felt excluded by services and didn’t feel there was a specific place to go to for support. Fathers felt under greater stress during this period, especially during this time when they were supporting their partner. As paternal mental health can influence child outcomes, fathers felt resources and support were needed, but would prefer them to be focused on fatherhood, rather than mental health specifically. In the post presentation discussion ideas about where men could get support included online forums.
Holly’s presentation echoed similar themes about the relationship between paternal mental health and child outcomes and shared a systematic review highlighting interventions, which effectively targeted expectant and new fathers mental health. Based on qualitative interviews also, fathers expressed their desire for fathers’ voices to be involved in shaping these services to identify their specific support needs.
Themes presentation ‘Peer support for perinatal illness’
Fiona Cust (Staffordshire University) shared powerful research into the effects of peer support workers in a postnatal depression PND services. After an overwhelming number of applications to be a peer support worker, women were employed and given the appropriate safeguarding and confidentiality training, and developed their own program of support to provide to mums who were currently experiencing PND. This RCT compared six 1-2-1 sessions with the peer support worker to six usual health-visiting sessions had an extremely high completion and acceptability rate. Mothers found it valuable to talk to someone who had previously experienced PND and described their peer support worker as a confident and expert and importantly a positive inspiration. Mood was improved in the mothers who had the peer support compared to the usual health visiting services with a key strength of the research was that the support was peer led.
Professor Louise Howard presented preliminary findings from two pieces of research.
The WENDY trial. As part of general health screening, NICE guidelines are to consider asking Whooley questions at first antenatal contact. These questions include:
During the past month have you been bothered by – feeling down, depressed or hopeless? Having little interest or pleasure in doing things? Also consider asking about anxiety.
Louise presented preliminary findings of a cross sectional study comparing the Whooley questionnaire and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale EPDS against a diagnostic assessment in identifying depression in pregnancy. This trial aimed to identify the prevalence of mental health disorders across the sample. As this research is not yet published, we wont go into too much detail but the answering positively to the Whooley questions was a good indicator of a participant reaching a diagnosis on the clinical interview SKID, particularly in this complex sample. A key message was that it was also very important how the questions were asked.
- Participants feeling professionals are not confident in identifying mental health needs
- Some services are not tailored for the perinatal period.
- Some services could be intrusive
- Mothers who had an acute ward experience sometimes helpful to have a break from baby whereas some mothers really wanted baby there. Some services lacked family friendly rooms and resources, as there was sometimes a strong focus on medication but not in a perinatal context. Mothers said they really valued it when staff remembered they were mothers.
- Specialist mother and baby units were experienced to be helpful and generally found supportive. They had knowledgeable and helpful staff but the environment was sometimes difficult to adjust to. Mothers found that it was good to also meet other mothers
- Another key experience was difficulties once the mother had been discharged.
Another fantastic key note lecture which was a highlight of day 2!
Written by Rachael and Leonie