Australian Bachelor of Midwifery students' mental health literacy: An exploratory study


Terence McCann, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Victoria University, PO Box 14428, Melbourne, VIC 8001, Australia. Email:


Many pregnant and post-partum women experience mental health problems, but midwives are frequently ill-equipped to provide support. The purpose of this study, conducted in Melbourne, Australia, was to examine first-year Bachelor of Midwifery students' mental health literacy about post-partum women with schizophrenia, using the vignette of “Mary”. A non-probability sample of 38 commencing students was used. The results showed that the students had a mainly lay person-informed conceptualization of mental health interventions for post-partum women. They acknowledged that Mary had a mental health problem that might have a more favorable outcome with professional support, but this agreement did not extend to their understanding of the consequences of the failure to receive professional help. They believed that negative outcomes were less likely and positive outcomes were just as likely for Mary than for others in the community. The findings highlight the need for mental health theory and clinical subjects to be incorporated in midwifery curricula.