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Recommendations for policy​

Many elements of the conceptual frameworks can be modified by policy makers and government activity (e.g. workforce provision, healthcare capacity, training etc). Therefore, we recommend policy makers review the frameworks and take comprehensive, strategic and evidence-based efforts to ensure there is an effective system of PMH care. ​

Funding is required to ensure high quality care provision. Therefore, the provision of a comprehensively researched and adequate budget is needed so that all healthcare needs for that financial year can be met. Funding needs to be adequate for service needs and easily accessible. Funding structures may need to be revised depending on the needs of the community in which the service is delivered (e.g. affordable health insurance where free healthcare is not available). ​

The reduction of health inequalities is needed. It is therefore advisable that policy is put in place: (i) improve equality between the sexes/genders by ensuring equal rights for women and men; (ii) in terms of ethnicity, for example changes at the legislative level are needed to protect those who have migrated to a different country from being penalised for accessing healthcare; and (iii) in terms of income, a fair and easily accessible welfare system is needed to prevent health inequalities based on deprivation.​

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Recommendations for practice (service managers)

In terms of care, it is recommended that care is co-produced with women and is personalised and culturally appropriate. Increasing the flexibility and accessibility of services should be done through offering home visits and, where this is not possible, providing out-of-hours appointments located in an area with good transport links and an accessible building to allow for pushchairs. In addition, service managers could consider the provision of virtual consultations using web-based platforms, but women should be given the choice about whether virtual consultations are right for them.​

Culturally sensitive care and increased accessibility of care is required for women who are unable to, or have difficulty speaking the country’s official language. This can be done via pictorial aids, the purchase of products such as Language Line, or through collaboration with translation agencies.​

Technology can be a facilitator to PMH services in terms of assessment, referral and intervention. Thus, technology systems should be co-produced with HPs and women to ensure ease of usability and integration into the workflow.​

Where not already implemented, multi-disciplinary teams should be created which facilitates choice and personalised care and ensures an adequate workforce to meet women’s needs. We need to break down silo working and encourage collaborative and joint working within and across services. Collaboration between services is needed with a focus on the identification and building of working relationships and networks with other services (e.g., Citizens Advice Bureau). Furthermore, the building of a coalition of health visitors, midwives, general practitioners, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies practitioners, psychologists and psychiatrists is needed to encourage referral and reduce the risk of women falling out of the care pathway.​

HPs should be provided with high quality training that is delivered face-to-face and incorporates role play simulators where appropriate. This should include training in cultural sensitivity and cross-cultural mental health. Training time for HPs should be built into workloads and be protected.​

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Recommendations for practice (health professionals)​

A facilitator to perinatal mental health care was health professionals having good knowledge about perinatal mental health, services and referral pathways. Therefore, health professionals should participate in continuing professional development activities related to perinatal mental health including participating in high quality training. When in contact with women, health professional should listen to women’s concerns and take them seriously. Take the time to address their concerns and take responsibility of that woman to ensure she is referred to appropriate services. Provide assessment in a woman-centred way. Explain questions or wording that women are not clear about. Clearly discuss results with women and explain next steps.​

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Recommendations for women and families

We have also designed recommendations for women and families – navigating the system, click here for this infographic. 

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