Original Research

Accessible continued professional development for maternal mental health

Sally Field, Zulfa Abrahams, David L. Woods, Roseanne Turner, Michael N. Onah, Doreen K. Kaura, Simone Honikman
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 11, No 1 | a1902 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v11i1.1902 | © 2019 Sally Field, Zulfa Abrahams, David L. Woods, Roseanne Turner, Michael N. Onah, Doreen K. Kaura, Simone Honikman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2018 | Published: 31 January 2019

About the author(s)

Sally Field, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Zulfa Abrahams, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa
David L. Woods, School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Roseanne Turner, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Michael N. Onah, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Canada; and, Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, University of Ottawa, Canada
Doreen K. Kaura, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Simone Honikman, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Changing global health and development trends have resulted in a need for continued professional development (CPD) within the health and development sectors. In low-resource settings, where the need for training and CPD may be highest, there are significant challenges for disseminating information and skills. There is a need to improve mental health literacy and reduce levels of stigma about maternal mental illness. The Bettercare series of distance learning books provides a peer-based format for CPD. We aimed to evaluate the Bettercare Maternal Mental Health book as a format for CPD.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether the Bettercare Maternal Mental Health book significantly improves knowledge and decreases stigma around mental health for care providers from the health and social development sectors.

Setting: One hundred and forty-one participants (social workers, nursing students and health professionals) were provided with the Bettercare Maternal Mental Health book to study.

Methods: Before and after studying the book, the same multiple-choice knowledge test and the Mental Illness Clinicians’ Attitude Scale were used to assess cognitive knowledge and mental health stigma, respectively.

Results: Participants’ knowledge showed a statistically significant (p < 0.001) improvement between the pre- and post-test results, for all six chapters of the book. However, participants’ attitudes towards mental illness did not show a statistically significant change between the pre- and post-test results.

Conclusion: We found that this method of learning elicited significant improvement in mental health knowledge for care providers. Continued professional development policy planners and curriculum developers may be interested in these findings.


Keywords

maternal mental health; continued professional education; distance learning; low-resource; peer-based

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