Raising Awareness of Maternal Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week this year ran between the 3rd – 9th May. Intended to talk about mental health issues before, during, and after pregnancy. It is imperative to raise professional and public awareness of perinatal mental health problems, alerting attitudes, and helping support families access important the information, knowledge, care, and support that they need.

Raising Awareness of Maternal Mental Health

Author: Paula BeckHR Business Partner for PACT HR

Date: 12th May 2021

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is a week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy. Join us as we take a retroactive look at the week and how you can support your colleagues.

It’s important to mothers and businesses that we raise awareness of mental health problems, change attitudes and help families access the information, care and support they need to recover. This year’s theme is ‘Journey’s to Recovery.”

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a stressful time for new mums and many may experience feelings of dread, sadness and guilt. But it is less known that one in ten mums will also be suffering from postnatal depression or another mental health problem which may require professional support.

A recent survey by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the UK’s leading charity for parents, found that mothers are not given enough support when returning to work. A poorly managed reintegration back into the workplace and lack of support can have a detrimental effect on a woman’s wellbeing. The survey concluded that the line management relationship is crucial to a smooth transition back to work.

How can you support your employees mental wellbeing when they return from maternity leave?

A successful return to work may include:

  • Good Communication throughout their maternity leave and their return to work. Ensure that they are sent any internal job vacancies whilst on maternity leave and invited to staff socials. Agree how much communication they would like to receive prior to going on maternity leave and how they would like this communicated i.e. by email etc.
  • A comprehensive risk assessment. The first should be completed in the second trimester (3-6) months or earlier if required and the second review should be completed in the third trimester (6-9 months) or earlier if required. The third should be undertaken prior to their return to work and the last risk assessment when they return to work. If there are changes to the employee’s health this may require further risk assessments;
  • A graduated return if possible or utilising Keeping In Touch days (KIT days);
  • Due consideration needs to be given to all flexible working requests such as a reduction in hours or a job share. The Flexible Working Policy must be followed and if a request is turned down then it must form one of the ‘eight fair reasons’ why a request can be rejected otherwise it can leave an employer open to claims of sex discrimination;
  • Looking at a re-orientation/training requirements;
  • Offer a coach or a mentor for support;
  • Take into consideration any adjustments for nursing mothers.
  • Mental Health issues connected with pregnancy or maternity leave are covered under the Equality Act 2010, this places a legal duty on an employer to make reasonable adjustments. Encourage open and honest discussions about these.

In conclusion

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach but its’s essential to create a positive supportive culture surrounding maternity leave and employees return to work.

Should you require advice/support in relation to any of the above please contact your PACT HR Business Partner for support with help supporting your staff manage their mental health and wellbeing through maternity.

For more info on how we can support your colleagues and teams, please contact the PACT HR helpdesk on 01274 436644 or email us at info@pact-hr.co.uk for more details.