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Midwifery and Mental Health

  • : Melbourne VIC 3001


An Essential Seminar for Midwives



This two day seminar provides a learning opportunity for midwives to enhance their knowledge of mental health within the midwifery context. Mental health disorders may impact on the quality of life of the pregnant and post-natal woman as well as the infant and others around her. According to Beyondblue, the prevalence and incidence of depression and related disorders has been shown to peak in the perinatal period. Thus prevention and early intervention as well as a comprehensive understanding of pre-existing mental illness is vital to a safe childbirth experience and effective treatment and recovery.


Need for Program


It has been well documented that one in five people in Australia may experience a mental health disorder in any year. Therefore there is a significant chance that women of child-bearing age may be affected by mental health problems or develop them during a pregnancy.

Impacts of mental health problems on the safety of a woman and her pregnancy, and subsequent parenting and child development, are profound. Over the last few years, considerable health policy emphasis has been given to perinatal mental health and women at risk of perinatal mental health disorders through the National Perinatal Depression Initiative.

As Midwives work in partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice during the perinatal period it is imperative that they are able to effectively assess, identify, and manage appropriately any emerging or existing mental health disorders that women may experience during this critical time.

Purpose of Program

The purpose of this seminar is to provide midwives with best practice mental health knowledge and skills that are relevant to their context of practice, to improve health outcomes.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this program it is expected that the participants will be able to:

  • Consider the impact a range of mental health problems may have on women and their babies during the perinatal period and appropriate strategies to divert these problems
  • Select the correct tool and perform an appropriate mental health assessment within the midwifery context of practice to improve screening for those at risk
  • Integrate knowledge about mental health risks, disorders and treatments into midwifery practice so as to improve outcomes for mother, baby and family
  • Access a wide range of mental health resources that will assist midwives to collaborate among colleagues and provide best-practice information to mothers and families
  • Schedule Day One

    8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


    What is Mental Health?

    Speaker - Sonia Miller

    The incidence of mental health problems within the Australian population is high with anxiety and depression disorders being most common. Many women who are already experiencing a mental illness become pregnant each year, while others may develop a mental health disorder during pregnancy. This may also apply to their partners. Therefore it is crucial to understand the nature of mental health disorders during this important period. Includes:

    • What is the extent of mental illness?
    • Which groups are most at risk and why?
    • What are the most common or prevalent mental illnesses?
    • Attitudes to mental illness, terminology and stigma


    When the Baby Dies

    Speaker - Dr Victoria Kain

    The death of a baby is always a tragic event and grief is a normal reaction to loss. The depth and duration of the experience is different for everyone but can have considerable psychological effects. Research has indicated the positive benefits of bereavement support during this time. This session aims to provide you with an opportunity to discuss some of your experiences and identify key support mechanisms you can use when faced with the death of a baby during pregnancy or childbirth.

    10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee


    Mental Health Assessment

    Speaker - Sonia Miller

    This practical session will look at the common tools used for a mental health assessment and includes:

    • What types of mental health assessments are there?
    • What can this information tell you?
    • Which tools can we use to inform assessment?
    • How can they be used effectively?


    Types of Mental Health Disorders

    Speaker - Sonia Miller

    This session will examine the major types of mental disorders using the framework of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders and IDC 10 standard diagnostic tools.

    • What are the different types of mental health disorders and how do they present – eg. developmental, behavioural, mood, psychotic or personality disorders
    • High prevalence and low prevalence disorders
    • When does acute mental illness become chronic and why?
    • Eccentricity, attention seeking behaviour, behavioural problems, and impaired judgements: are these mental illnesses?

    1:00pm - Lunch and Networking


    Perinatal Depression

    Speaker - Sonia Miller

    The National Perinatal Depression Initiative has highlighted the need to identify women at risk of developing perinatal depression. In addition it has been shown that men are also at a high risk of suffering depression during the perinatal period. This practical session will address:

    • Screening women and using the 10-Item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale effectively
    • Risk factors for perinatal depression and planning care
    • Acting on indicators of poor mental health

    2:45pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    Treating Mental Health Disorders

    Speaker - Sonia Miller

    A range of evidenced based treatments are available for people with a mental health disorder. This session will overview the common treatments and therapies including:

    • Common drug groups and why they might be selected
    • Complementary medicines and alternative therapies
    • An overview of focused psychological strategies - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), Multi-Theoretical Psychotherapy, psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapy, family therapy and others

    4:15pm - Close of Day One of Program

    Day Two

    9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


    Mothers, Babies, and Psychotropics

    Speaker - TBA

    With the high incidence of mental health problems in the community, it is likely that midwives will encounter a number of women in this situation who are being treated with psychotropic medications. It is important midwives have a good understanding of the effects the medicines may have on the mother and baby. In this session we will consider psychotropic medications in relation to:

    • Clinical implications for the pregnant woman
    • Potential interactions and serious side effects that might occur
    • Effects on the baby in-utero and the immediate post-partum period
    • Commencing and ceasing medications during pregnancy
    • Psychotropics and breast feeding – what do the studies say?

    10:30am - Morning Tea and Coffee


    Too Hard Basket?

    Speaker - Sonia Miller

    Substance use and alcohol can have profound effects on the mental health and wellbeing of individuals. It can also lead to serious effects on the foetus. However it is often a hard subject to deal with. In this session we will look at:

    • Alcohol and drug dependence
    • Drugs on the street
    • Adverse effects on mind and body
    • Care delivery challenges
    • Treatment and withdrawal
    • Domestic violence and other trauma related issues

    12:30pm - Lunch and Networking


    Communicating with a Person who has a Mental Health Disorder

    Speaker - Sonia Miller

    Safety is a priority in the assessment and management of mental illness and communication is fundamental to effective care. This session will focus on the best way to use communication. Includes:

    • How to talk about it and communicate
    • Sorting the myths from the facts
    • Risk assessments - what are the overt and covert signs, and how to respond
    • Suicidality and self-harm behaviours/li>

    2:45pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    Resources and Services

    Speaker - Sonia Miller

    This final session provides you with a comprehensive opportunity to consolidate your knowledge and gain valuable resources. Includes:

    • What is the best treatment for the presenting concerns
    • How can individuals access appropriate services
    • Workshop what you know and share resources

    4:15pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations


    Sonia Miller-Chau

    Sonia Miller-Chau

    Sonia Miller is a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner who has worked in nursing for over 25 years and has specialised in mental health for the last 16 years across a range of child, youth and adult mental health areas. Currently Sonia works in her independent private practice – MHNP Consulting, working with families, children and youth. She uses range psychotherapy methods and focuses on multi-theoretical approach, which incorporates a biopsychosocial holistic view on each individuals health needs. Sonia holds a Master of Health Science (Mental Health and Quality Management) and qualification in advanced pharmacotherapy to be deemed equivalent of Master in Nurse Practitioner to gain endorsement with AHPRA. Sonia started her nursing career in Paediatrics and Neuroscience then moved into Mental Health gaining experience in a range of mental health settings. Clinically this included acute in-patient, community case management, assertive youth outreach with high-risk mental health clients, triage and crisis assessment services. Sonia also has extensive clinical leadership and management roles in triage, primary mental health services with ATAPS and headspace along with, project roles and teaching running graduate nursing programs in mental health.

Midwifery and Mental Health
Speciality Classification
Provider Type
10 hours 30 mins
Start Date
End Date
10 hours 30 mins
Price Details
Melbourne VIC 3001
Hotel IBIS - Therry Street, 15-21 Therry Street
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