Voluntary & Community Sector


The voluntary sector or community sector (also known as the “not-for-profit” sector or third sector) includes organisations that are not-for-profit and non-governmental. This sector is huge and incredibly diverse, covering everything from local faith and community groups, to social enterprises to national and international charities. Services within the sector can be delivered by either paid staff (some of whom may be health or social care professionals) or by volunteers.

Within the perinatal mental health system, community sector organisations provide a range of services, including peer support, 1:1 and group support for women with mild, moderate or severe mental health problems, face-to-face services and online resources. Many members of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance are from this sector. The Netmums website can help families and professionals to find community sector groups in their local area.

Anyone working in the community sector who wants to find out more about perinatal mental health should also look at the resources on our more general ‘commissioners and service providers’ page.

Networks and Forums

Representatives from the third sector should be welcome to join their regional Strategic Clinical Networks for Perinatal Mental Health. These networks provide leadership and support to improve perinatal mental health services. Strategic Clinical Networks for perinatal mental health sit within wider Maternity or Mental Health networks .The networks co-ordinate the expertise of commissioners, healthcare providers, academics, policy makers and families to deliver quality improvements in outcomes and patient experience. You can find out more about your local clinical network through the NHS England website [include hyperlink].

Those working in the community sector can also join the virtual Maternal Mental Health Network which provides resources, news and online forums to support those working in services that support women with perinatal mental health problems.

Online training

The following online training modules may be useful to those working with women with perinatal mental health problems in the community sector.

E-Learning for Health Care modules on perinatal mental health

This Perinatal Mental Health programme has been designed to help educate and increase awareness of issues arising from perinatal mental health. There are five sessions aimed at raising awareness and understanding of mental health problems in the perinatal period for any members of the multidisciplinary professional healthcare team who may come into contact with women during this time. This programme was developed by the Institute for Health Visiting, Royal College of GPs and Department of Health.

Learning modules on maternal mental health

The Maternal and Child Health and Psychology teams at NHS Education for Scotland produced two modules of online training around perinatal mental health. Each module represents around 2 ½ hours of learning and will be of interest to anyone who works with pregnant women and new families, including health visitors, midwives, GPs, obstetricians, paediatricians, neonatal nurses, mental health teams, substance misuse teams, psychologists and third sector organisations.

Module One: Understanding maternal mental health

Module Two: Maternal mental health: the woman’s journey