Thursday, 27 January 2011

Training needs survey for Perinatal and Infant Mental health care staff

The NW Mental Health Improvement Programme (MHIP) have issued this bulletin:

Training needs survey for Perinatal and Infant Mental health care staff

Service users and carers, who use Perinatal and Infant Mental Health services, have identified where they feel there are knowledge gaps for practitioners working in this area of care, resulting in problems accessing appropriate services.

The Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Project at NHS North West decided to undertake a survey across the North West to identify the training needs of professionals and non-professional workers providing Perinatal and Infant Mental health care. A link to an online survey was sent out in December 2010 to key networks to enable the involvement of as large a sample of respondents as possible. The survey was closed on January 10th with an excellent 288 respondents completing the survey.

There was a spread of respondents from across both primary care and specialist and acute services, maternity care, child and adolescent mental health, adult mental health settings, children's services, children's centres and the third/voluntary sector, with all the major professional groups in those services well represented. Over half of the sample had been in their posts for over five years with 32% having worked in those posts for over 10 years.

66% of people had received prior training in mental health and 59.4% thought that Perinatal and Infant Mental health issues were very relevant to their roles. By far the largest demand for training indicated (57.6%) was in parent-infant relationship assessment skills, closely followed by Perinatal Mental Health assessment skills (52.4%). Risk assessment, psychotherapeutic skills and overall awareness of Perinatal and Infant Mental Health issues were also highlighted as areas where a significant number of respondents felt they needed further education and training.

Most survey respondents identified short courses of 1-2 days in length as a preferred way of receiving education and training (63.5%). Teaching seminars lasting a couple of hours were also a popular method. 29.5% chose e-learning methods and shadowing is seen as desirable by almost 20%. Almost 80% of respondents were not currently accessing training. Of those that were, it was delivered in a wide variety of ways from special interest groups to national and accredited courses, the Royal Colleges, local multi-agency training groups and some individuals.

The level and the depth of responses indicate that this is a key area for workforce development that would benefit from a more coherent training and professional development framework to guide and support workers to deliver improved services to infants and their families.

For more information about the survey please contact: Anne Sheppard, Assistant Director for the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Project at NHS North West on

It comes as no surprise that more training is needed and wanted! We just need to fund it somehow. Perhaps that is where Joe Bingley Memorial Foundation may have a role? 

Elaine Hanzak

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