Thanks to a new pilot scheme which started earlier this month pregnant women and new mums in Walsall are being offered timely and effective support with their mental health.
As well as offering expert advice, the weekly Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust clinic - established by Donna Perkins, Antenatal Clinic Manager, and Cheryl Crosby, Deputy Head of Midwifery, - aims to improve multidisciplinary working between primary care, obstetric care, midwifery and mental health services and to maintain and promote mental health wellbeing.
Up to 20% of women experience a mental health problem in the perinatal period – just before and immediately after birth. These range from mild to extremely severe, requiring different pathways, management and care. They include antenatal and postnatal depression, anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, relapse of known severe mental illnesses including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar affective disorder and postpartum psychosis.
Cheryl said: “Pregnancy and the weeks and months that follow the birth are an extremely important chapter in women’s lives and for many this is a wonderful time.
“But for others it can be a difficult, challenging time. Some women especially with pre-existing mental health issues can find that their mental health deteriorates and getting timely, tailored support is vital.
“We’re proud to be able to offer one of the pilot Antenatal Mental Health Liaison Clinics here in Walsall and ensure vulnerable women get the help they need while pregnant as well as following birth. If women don’t have access to this support when they need it there can be lasting longer term consequences for both mother and child.”
The clinic offers access to a consultant psychiatrist, a community psychiatric nurse and a specialist vulnerable women’s midwife, with consultant obstetrician support.
Women can contact their Community Midwife if they have any concerns or to discuss a referral to the clinic.
Cheryl added: “As well as appropriate treatment, women will also be advised on preventative measures that they can take and we will signpost them to relevant community and voluntary services that can also offer the support they need.”