Drawing of a woman holding a small baby with question marks and exclamations all around her

Guidance if you are concerned that you or a loved one are unwell with a maternal mental health problem during the pandemic

Page last updated: 07/05/2020 at 15:05 Available in Welsh (ar gael yn Gymraeg)

Drawing of two mums holding each other and a small baby

Mental health problems during pregnancy or following childbirth are common. Some women have a previous mental health condition that can be exacerbated by pregnancy or having a baby. For others, they may experience a mental health problem for the very first time.

Whatever your situation, please remember that although services may be delivered differently at this time, health professionals such as GPs, midwives, health visitors and mental health services are available to help you (see below).

So please don’t wait to call them if you are concerned about symptoms.

Don’t forget that our mental health and wellbeing tips may be useful and a good place to start if you notice you are feeling anxious or have a low mood.

 


Drawing of a heavily pregnant woman with her hand on her head and a storm cloud above her

1)  KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS

There are different mental health problems with differing symptoms, and you or a loved one may not even realise that what you’re experiencing could be an illness.

To help you spot signs that you or a loved one may need help, please consider the following questions[1]:

1.  Do you/they have new feelings and thoughts which you/they have never had before, and which make you/them disturbed or anxious?

2.  Are you/they experiencing thoughts of suicide or harming yourself/themselves in violent ways?

3.  Are you/they thinking they are a bad mum, as though you/they can’t cope, or feeling disconnected from the baby?

4.  Do you feel you/they are getting worse?


If you or a loved one answer ‘Yes’ to any of the above, please contact one of the support services below and get the professional help you need.


Drawing of a mean holding a baby while looking at a laptop and calling someone on the phone2)  GET HELP

If you are concerned about your mental health, or the mental health of someone you know, it is important to either:

      • Talk to a health professional,eg your own GP, midwife, health visitor or therapy service
      • Call the emergency services on 999
      • Go to the A&E departmentat your local hospital
      • Call Lifeline (Northern Ireland only) on 0808 808 8000 (free of charge)

3)  FIND MORE INFORMATION AND ADVICE

Mental health support
Organisations providing maternal mental health support for new and expectant parents >

You can refer yourself direct to free NHS therapy/counselling services in England or be referred through your GP in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In England these services will prioritise women in pregnancy and postnatally.

There is also a directory of private counsellors working online or offering telephone counselling

How to help others with mental health problems

Medication
If you are taking medication for a mental health problem:

      • Talk to your doctor first if you are ever considering stopping or reducing your medication.
      • All mental health medications stop working if they’re not taken, and most of them take time to start working.
      • Make sure you always have the supplies of medication you need. Don’t wait until you have run out to order more. You can telephone your pharmacist in advance to make sure they have the right medication at the time you need it.

Be kind to yourself
You know yourself better than anyone else. So if you know of anything that positively helps you manage or ease anxiety or low moods, try to make use of that.

If you have tried things that usually help and it is making little difffernce, or if your mood has worsended considerably, it is important to speak out.


Drawing of a healthcare professional wearing a mask and gloves holding a sign that says, "We are STILL here for you"4)  ALWAYS REMEMBER: EXPERT HELP IS AVAILABLE

The really good news is that we know how to treat mental health conditions during pregnancy or after birth. It is important to speak out as early as possible if you or your loved one have any symptoms that concern you, and it’s best to get treated early. This includes during COVID-19.

You or others that care for you may be concerned about speaking out, but there are specialist perinatal mental health teams in parts of the UK who are uniquely trained to  support a mother’s recovery from perinatal mental health problems, with her baby. This includes during COVID-19.

Please remember that speaking out is a sign of strength and a way of looking after yourself, which in turn will help take care of your baby.

 

 


[1] MBRRACE 2018

Please note that the MMHA is not responsible for the content of any of the links above but hopes that they may provide comfort and help at this time.