Involving Perinatal Mental Health Experts by Experience in Service Development

A blog to introduce discussion of meaningful involvement of women and families in perinatal mental health service development.

Participation is an umbrella term for any activity where the general public are involved in developing health and social care services. In their participation toolkit (2014), the Scottish Health Council define participation as:

“…involving people in: decisions about their own care, shaping and influencing service provisions as communities of interest or geography and, working in partnership with service providers.”

There are many benefits of participation to service development, including improved outcomes and governance.

How could you involve experts by experience?

You could invite women and families:

  • To be a part of a forum of people interested in the improvement of perinatal mental health services;
  • To be involved in interviewing potential new members of staff;
  • To respond to consultations on development of new plans or materials such as leaflets or posters;

Things to consider

Accessibility: does everyone have equal access?

Diversity: Are you speaking to people from different communities in your area?

Impact: Are group members kept up to date with developments? What is done with the information shared?

Networks: Are there any groups / organisations already doing this?

Expenses: Do women and families at least have access to travelling expenses?

Risks: The experience of participation may involve health professionals involved in their care, past and present. This may have been good or bad. Consider using one of the toolkits below to mitigate the risk.

Key contact: Do women and families have access to a key contact within the team with whom they can plan & discuss their experience?


IRISS promote positive outcomes for the people who use Scotland’s social services, by enhancing the capacity and capability of the social services workforce, to access and make use of knowledge and research for service improvement.

The Scottish Co-production Network is place for the sharing of learning and the exchange of co-production practice.

UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research has many useful resources.

We Coproduce have some excellent resources

Participation toolkits

IRISS Achieving Successful Co-design

Mind Influence and Participation Toolkit

Scottish Health Council Participation Toolkit

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