by Katrina Jenkins, Project Manager Families, Children and Young People’s Programmes
The Maternal Mental Health Alliance Conference 2018 is an annual event dedicated to stimulating debate and the sharing of ideas for good practice in the field of perinatal mental health. This exciting event is organised by the Mental Health Foundation on behalf of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (of which we are a member).
This is how I became involved in this national conference. As Project Manager in the Families, Children and Young People’s Programmes team at the Mental Health Foundation, my role includes the organisation of this year’s Conference.
Each year, the Maternal Mental Health Conference delivers a unique theme which corresponds to pertinent areas of interest in perinatal mental health.
I was fortunate to have been able to attend the conference last year, on the theme of Intergenerational mental health: working with mums and babies in perinatal mental health practice. Along with 250 other delegates, I gained a wealth of learning and deepened my understanding of how a whole-family approach can break the intergenerational cycle of mental health problems.
I am even more excited about the theme for this year’s Maternal Mental Health Conference – Diversity: Understanding and reaching the missing families. This topic is uniquely interesting as it offers an exceptional opportunity to explore important but seldom-heard voices in perinatal mental health.
In the context of this annual conference, diversity encapsulates underrepresented families who may experience discrimination or stigma and additional barriers to accessing perinatal mental health services, and who might require additional or different support from services
I am especially looking forward to hearing from the hugely varied range of lived experience that will be shared at the conference – such as women in military families and mothers in prison. There is so much to gain from furthering our understanding of the situational, cultural and other factors which can impact on perinatal mental health outcomes, and which can impact access to relevant and appropriate support.
Alongside the amazing speakers, we have invited poster presentations from a range of practitioners, researchers and other sectors to show innovation and good practice in perinatal mental health. For the first time, this year we are also inviting poster presentations from families who have lived experience of perinatal mental health difficulties. We are particularly interested to invite the sharing of personal stories from families who have diverse experiences and backgrounds.
The range of poster presentations in the 2017 conference offered an invaluable opportunity to further our understanding of intergenerational considerations in perinatal mental health. I have no doubt that this year’s range of poster presentations will bring new perspectives in our considerations around diversity in perinatal mental health.
In the growing field of perinatal mental health, there is a huge range of fantastic work happening around the country. Our poster presentations provide an opportunity to showcase the work done by the ever increasing number of charities, health services and others working in this field.
This exciting Conference programme will be concluded by the second-ever Perinatal Mental Health Awards Ceremony. Across five key categories of excellence, services and individuals will be awarded for their outstanding work in perinatal mental health. Whether it’s the Education and Training Award or the Perinatal Peer Support Award, we are now inviting nominations of services or individuals to be awarded in recognition of their commitment to good practice in responding to perinatal mental health support needs.
If last year is anything to go by, the Drinks Reception, which follows from the Awards Ceremony, is also not one to be missed. With delicious canapes and a refreshing drink, this networking opportunity provides a further chance to celebrate all the achievements and outstanding practice in perinatal mental health.