This World Mental Health Day (10 October), we want to remind new and expectant mums of the support available for their mental health and wellbeing.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all in different ways – and for pregnant women and new parents, we know it’s been a very different and challenging time.
Perinatal mental health services provide specialist care and treatment for women with complex mental health needs during and after pregnancy. They are classed as ‘secondary care’, which means that women are normally referred for additional support into the services from another health or care professional, such as a midwife, health visitor or GP.
Across the region, perinatal mental health services have seen increases in referrals and requests for support.
This increase has been echoed within our Trust where we’ve seen a 27% increase in referrals to our service in comparison to the same time last year. We’ve also experienced that women referred to our service during the pandemic have needed more support for more severe mental health problems.
In response to this, a new guide has been created to help new and expectant mums, alongside their partners, families and friends, understand where to go for mental health and wellbeing support.
Covering a broad spectrum, the guide provides examples of emotions and behaviours and signposts to the relevant support – from voluntary and community organisations through to emergency help. The guide expresses the importance of seeking help early to prevent mental health difficulties worsening too:
Claire Lowe, perinatal mental health team leader, said: “Throughout the pandemic our perinatal mental health services haven’t stopped – they are still here to help, alongside midwives, health visitors and GP practices.
“A message that we want to get across loud and clear is that health services, like ours, are still here to help. Health services are exempt from local coronavirus restrictions. This means we continue to work with the people that we support.
“It’s so important that pregnant women and new mums seek help and support as early as possible to prevent mental health problems getting worse. We encourage you to familiarise yourself with the new guide we’ve produced so you know where to go in a range of situations.”
A toolkit is also being shared with GPs, midwives and health visitors across Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. This will act as a prompt and feature new and useful information about the Trust’s perinatal mental health service, to help support joined-up partnership working further.