Perinatal mental health staff complete specialist training to identify patients suffering from domestic abuse

Health and care professionals working in community perinatal mental health teams across Humber, Coast and Vale have completed specialist training to help them identify patients who might be suffering from domestic abuse.

According to a report by the UN, cases of domestic abuse have increased by 20% worldwide during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, as many victims have been trapped at home with their abuser.

The UN has described the global rise in domestic violence cases as a “shadow pandemic” alongside Covid-19. About two thirds of women in England living with domestic abuse told a Women’s Aid survey published in August that their ordeal had got worse during the UK’s first lockdown.

During October, the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership’s perinatal mental health team delivered training to 35 perinatal mental health support staff, including nursery nurses, speciality doctors, clinical psychologists and specialist mental health midwifes.

The training was delivered in partnership with Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, Hull Domestic Abuse Partnership, and Hull City Council to staff across Humber, Coast and Vale – an area which includes Hull, East Yorkshire, York, North Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire.

The number of staff trained equates to 98.5% of the Humber, Coast and Vale perinatal mental health workforce.

The training provides staff with the skills to identify potential abuse, picking up on subtle signs and symptoms of domestic violence and helping women gain the confidence to speak up and seek vital support. Staff who have undergone the training are now more equipped to identify patients with mental health difficulties who may be vulnerable and in need of additional support.

Perinatal mental health conditions are those that occur during pregnancy or during the first year following the birth of a child. Perinatal mental health conditions are common, affecting one in five women and can have long-lasting effects on the woman and her family if left untreated.

Last Wednesday (25th November) marked the start of 16 Days of Action Against Domestic Violence – a campaign encouraging organisations to train staff who might witness domestic violence – the training demonstrates the importance the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership Perinatal Mental Health team places on providing vital health and safety support to patients.

The training will benefit many patients, with the perinatal mental health teams helping 771 women across the Humber, Coast and Vale area last year.

Amina Bristow, Perinatal Mental Health Programme Lead for the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, said: “In a time where face to face care is limited, it’s critical we identify where patients experiencing mental ill health may be at risk of domestic violence.

“Evidence has demonstrated a worrying increase in cases of domestic abuse during the pandemic, and that this will also mean many cases are going undetected. Developing training and strengthening links with local domestic abuse partnerships will continue to help us support women with known mental ill health who are in a vulnerable position and who may need additional specialist support.”

Feedback from both professionals, via training evaluation, and from patients accessing the perinatal mental health service has been very positive. There has been praise for the high quality specialist mental health care which patients see is being delivered closer to home, and women have reported having an overall positive experience from more joined up services which focus on their wellbeing and their recovery.

Katy Morley, Team Leader and Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Liaison Nurse at Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, who took part in the training in October, said: “The training has really given me a fresh perspective and helped raise my awareness of domestic violence and the signs to look out for.

“We know rates of domestic abuse have sadly risen this year, and many women are in fear of coming forward. I now feel more confident that the support I provide will have a positive impact and that my knowledge can support and protect perinatal mental health patients in our communities.”

For more information about perinatal mental health conditions and the Humber, Coast and Vale perinatal mental health team visit

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