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Assessing women's perinatal psychological health: exploring the experiences of health visitors

Jomeen, Julie; Glover, Lesley; Jones, Catriona; Garg, Deepak; Marshall, Clare


Deepak Garg

Clare Marshall


Objective: This study aimed to explore health visitors' (HVs) experiences of the assessment of women with psychological distress and mental health problems across the perinatal period in clinical practice. Background: In international contexts, there is now a firm policy remit for the assessment of psychological and mental health disorder across the perinatal period. Women are in regular contact with health professionals across this time and consultations intuitively create an ideal and appropriate context in which to assess women's psychological health. National reports and academic literature highlight that to prevent the escalation of perinatal mental illness, significant change is needed to support health professionals in detecting, discussing and dealing with mental illnesses. Methods: In a qualitative aspect of a larger mixed-method study, data were collected from two Focus Group Discussions with HVs pre and post a training session related to assessing and managing perinatal mental health problems in practice. For the purposes of this paper, the data were explicitly examined for references to recognition and assessment. Results: Four themes emerged from the data: recognising the problem; questioning and identification; so what do I do now; the importance of support to promote effective identification and assessment. Conclusion: Findings elucidate the complexities that practitioners face in assessing women's psychological health in real world settings. HVs' experiences highlight that the implementation of measures into practice needs to be workable and accompanied by contemporary and appropriately contextualised knowledge, adequate service provision and clear referral pathways to ensure effective assessment of women's psychological health.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 8, 2013
Journal Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Print ISSN 0264-6838
Electronic ISSN 1469-672X
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 5
Pages 479-489
APA6 Citation Jomeen, J., Glover, L., Jones, C., Garg, D., & Marshall, C. (2013). Assessing women's perinatal psychological health: exploring the experiences of health visitors. Journal of reproductive and infant psychology, 31(5), (479-489). doi:10.1080/02646838.2013.835038. ISSN 0264-6838
Keywords Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health; General Psychology; Reproductive Medicine