Launch of new perinatal mental health service

Date: 01 September 2017

Our new perinatal mental health service will start taking referrals from Friday 1 September 2017. The service will be based in Dewsbury but will have staff based in all areas covered by the Trust—Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees, and Wakefield.

“Pregnancy and childbirth is a uniquely vulnerable time for women where there is a substantially increased risk of developing an episode of mental illness – the most likely time in a woman’s life.” Said Claire Lowe, perinatal mental health team leader. “There’s a need to raise the awareness of perinatal illness within mental health services to improve access for women to appropriate specialist interventions from specially trained staff. It is possible to predict some high-risk pregnancies and to improve the outcome for the woman and baby with careful planning of the care they receive. Early detection of symptoms of mental illness, a clear understanding of risks, their implications and subsequent effective management is improved with specialist input and intervention – that’s what this new service will do.”

The team will consist of five senior perinatal practitioners, two part time psychologists, an occupational therapist, two wellbeing practitioners, two consultant psychiatrists, a full-time peer support worker post, an administrator and a team leader.  The service will be organised in a hub and spoke model, with the Dewsbury hub taking new referrals and practitioners working alongside mental health colleagues in each of the Trust’s localities.

The service will be able to offer a range of different interventions depending on need and current involvement with our services. It will work with women who already receive input from teams within the Trust, offering specialist perinatal support around care planning, contingency planning, medication, mother-infant interactions and coordinating the wider multi-agency team such as health visitors. Staff will assess and care coordinate people newly referred to secondary care services, either during pregnancy or up to the baby being one year old, referring them on to more appropriate teams if necessary.  The consultant psychiatrist will provide pre-conceptual advice to women who have had a previous perinatal illness.  The team will also provide perinatal mental health training to colleagues and teams, primary care services and third sector organisations.

Claire said: “Women will be able to receive the right care at the right time to allow them to manage their mental health in the best way possible and to succeed as parents.   A good outcome for the mum and baby means that mothers are helped to manage their problems in a way that enables them to continue to care for their baby and that they get better quickly.  Perinatal mental health problems come in many shapes and forms, ranging from common mental illnesses that are easy to treat but can have a disproportionate impact on the baby – to really serious and unexpected mental illnesses, sometimes in people with no previous history of mental ill health.  Serious incidents and long-term disability are a risk, but recovery is possible for all and specialist perinatal mental healthcare can effectively manage these risks and ensure the best possible outcomes.”

You can be referred to the service by your GP, midwife, health visitor or another healthcare professional through our single point of access.