Supporting mothers to talk about postnatal depression

A new comprehensive service has been launched today to support women who develop a mental health illness during pregnancy or in the first year following birth.

One in ten woman experience a mental health illness during this time and for some it can have an effect on the bond between mother and baby. If mothers and their families are not supported during this vulnerable time mental health illness can escalate and impact on the baby’s development.

To help mothers and their families a new specialist perinatal service offering support for a range of mental health needs was launched today by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) in partnership with Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Central and West London Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The new service is designed to provide mental health care for women who are at risk of, or develop a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the first year after birth (known as the perinatal period), and also to offer pre-conception advice to women who already have a mental health condition.

Dr Maddalena Miele, CNWL’s perinatal clinical lead, said “It can be hard to tease out the symptoms of depression following the impact on lifestyle that a baby automatically brings. Women often feel guilty because they have all they ever wished for and yet they still can’t be happy and often internalise blame for not ‘pulling themselves together’. Many suffer in silence and their illness remains untreated for years, often with devastating consequences.

“This new service will help by providing comprehensive care across the boroughs.”

Women will be able to receive care for conditions including: depression, anxiety and complex mental health issues, at all levels of severity. The aim will be to identify those at risk at an early stage and provide timely support, which is individually tailored to meet each patient’s needs. The specialist mental health teams will work closely with other care professionals, physiologists, therapists and voluntary sector organisations, to ensure women receive joined up care, at the right time and in the right place.

Dr Neera Dholakia, GP perinatal and mental health lead for West London CCG said: “This will make a real difference to women and their families at one of their most vulnerable times. Improving perinatal mental health will have both short-term and long-term benefits for their own mental health and the development of their infants”.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. The NHS North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) is a collaboration of the eight NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in North West London. We are working with patients and the public to design, develop and implement major transformation programmes to improve healthcare services for the two million residents who live there: www.healthiernorthwestlondon.nhs.uk.
     
  2. There are two perinatal mental health services in NW London. The service offered in Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow is provided by West London Mental Health Trust and the service offered in of Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hillingdon, Brent and Harrow is provided by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.
     
  3. Referrals – people can be referred by their GP to the service.