Tag Archives: perinatal mental health service

Lynette’s story

Connecting with other women with similar experiences to mine has played a huge part in my recovery.

Lynette (Lisburn)

I had a traumatic experience when I gave birth to my twins in February 2020. This led to me missing out on our first bonding experiences but for the first few weeks I was okay and adjusted to life as a mum of two. Then, four weeks later, we entered the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic.

My partner was a key worker, so he kept working throughout. Without any visitors allowed, I became very isolated. I’d had so many plans for my maternity leave, such as going to groups and meeting other parents, but I couldn’t do any of that.

Losing my identity

My mood became very low and I started to feel anxious all the time. I also internalised a lot of my feelings and worried when people came to visit that they only wanted to see the babies. I felt like I’d lost a big part of my identity.

It all came to a head one day when I was playing with my twins and had the thought, “I could just disappear”. I knew then that I wasn’t okay and told my husband how I was feeling. He encouraged me to call the doctor. The first response I got from the doctor’s receptionist was, “Is this important?”. But I pushed forward and asked for help.

Early support is vital

After an assessment from the mental health team, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and prescribed medication to help with my mood, and I was referred to my local Maternal Advocacy and Support [MAs] group. It took me a long time to build up the confidence to attend, but as soon as I walked into the first meeting I knew I was in the right place.

Connecting with other women with similar experiences to mine has played a huge part in my recovery. There is no judgement and you can laugh, cry and giggle with women who know where you’re coming through. I have mum friends now!

I wish I had known about services like the MAs group sooner and shared how I was feeling at an earlier stage. I also believe it’s important that health and social care professionals understand how hard it is for new mums who may be struggling to seek support. They need to actively share with the mums the amazing services which could help them.

Find out more about the MAs project, led by MMHA member Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA), on our blog or on the WRDA website.

If the content of this story causes you to think of anything that has happened to you or someone you know and you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, please see our support page for a list of services that may be able to help.

New mothers in England to receive dedicated six-week check

Last week, MMHA member NCT were able to celebrate after hearing the news that NHS England and the British Medical Association have agreed to fund a six-week assessment for mums under the new GP contract. They won’t have to wait long for the change either, as plans come into effect from April 2020. Continue reading New mothers in England to receive dedicated six-week check

New Healthwatch report finds perinatal mental health support is variable

A recent survey, conducted by Healthwatch England, of 1,738 women who had been affected by perinatal mental health problems highlights inconsistencies in support during pregnancy and after having a baby, despite national NICE guidelines.

In their most recent report ‘Mental health and the journey to parenthood’, Healthwatch outline their findings. Continue reading New Healthwatch report finds perinatal mental health support is variable

Positive steps taken in Scotland to improve access to inpatient care

In 2015, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland carried out a themed visit to find out how many women received care in a local adult acute ward, without their baby, during a period of perinatal mental illness. They found that just over one third of women were separated from their baby, sometimes for a prolonged period. In Scotland, it is a legal duty for Health Boards to provide joint mother and baby admissions. Continue reading Positive steps taken in Scotland to improve access to inpatient care

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) responds to the launch of NHS England’s long term plan

January 7th saw the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan, setting out their ambitions for health care in England, including many positive goals for perinatal mental health.

Commenting on the publication of the NHS long term plan, The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) Director Emily Slater welcomed the plan’s announcement and commitment to women and families in England, in particular the news of an increase in services to benefit more women and the extension of specialist mental health support for new parents, which will now be offered for two years after the birth of their child.

Emily Slater said:

“The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is really pleased to see that the NHS has committed to expanding perinatal mental health services and helping more women and families access vital treatment. The details of the long-term plan signals that the NHS wants to build on the success it has had creating specialist perinatal mental health services to ensure more women and families can access essential, lifesaving support.”

Continue reading The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) responds to the launch of NHS England’s long term plan

Professional bodies welcome report highlighting need for more maternal mental health experts

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are delighted the NHS Benchmarking report on Universal Perinatal Mental Health Findings was published on Friday 14 September.

Prior to this study, information on service provision and staffing of universal perinatal mental health (PMH) services was not available at a national level.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are delighted the NHS Benchmarking report on Universal Perinatal Mental Health Findings was published on Friday 14 September.

The data collected from providers suggested that:

Capacity in universal services is very limited and does not provide the necessary broad base from which the Specialist PMH services can operate effectively and efficiently.

The provision of specialist perinatal mental health care within universal services is highly variable across England, with some areas having no, or limited, provision (obstetric & midwifery providers 61%; health visiting providers 30%).

The large gap in health visiting PMH capacity was particularly evident, with 70% of providers having no specialist provision within the service.

This report is critical because it focuses on the universal element, where the vast majority of women need to receive their care. Universal services are a crucial element of the PMH care pathway at every local level and have the potential to create great savings in relation to both human and economic costs in the short and long term.

Alain Gregoire, Chair of the MMHA, said:

“There has been excellent progress in funding specialist perinatal service provision across England, but we know that specialist services alone are not enough.  All women in pregnancy and postnatally should have equitable access to the support, prevention and treatment they need for their mental health as much as for their physical health. This report shows that investment is essential to ensure that there are sufficient, well-trained staff across universal services so that women get the care they should expect from the NHS, and our children can get the best start in life.”

Read the full statement from the MMHA, iHV, RCOG and RCM here.

Conference 2018: eye opening content and powerful personal stories

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance Conference 2018 was an inspirational event, filled with eye opening content and powerful personal stories from lived experience.

Delegates said the day offered fresh perspectives, new insights and lots of opportunities for expanding networks across the perinatal sector.

One delegate mentioned that she encountered ideas that she hadn’t considered before and took away lots of learning to help reach the ‘missing’ families in her area.

Lived experience was a key theme of the conference this year and our speakers’ personal stories created a real buzz in the hall and on social media.

“Powerful personal story from in breakout A. Moved us to tears #MMHAconf2018

“Wow! 58% of live births in London are to women born outside the UK #MMHAconf2018

“Humbling to hear from members of the learning disability parent network about being pregnant and having a baby when you have a learning disability.”

Self-confessed ‘Glam Geek and Proud Sikh’, and mental health campaigner DJ Neev Spencer was a firm favourite with the audience. She shared her own experience of PND before presenting the annual perinatal mental health awards .

Dr Laura Wood’s comments echoed many:

“Home from #MMHAConf2018 I’m inspired & encouraged. And I’m so thankful for our incredible community & for my place in it. You really have changed my life x”

Huge thanks to Katrina Jenkins for organising and co-presenting the awards with DJ Neev Spencer, and to Dr Alain Gregoire for keeping the day on track.


Missed any of the presentations? Check out full list here.


DJ and broadcaster Neev Spencer to present perinatal mental health awards 2018

We are delighted to announce that DJ and broadcaster Neev Spencer, the biggest British Asian female broadcaster in the UK and a passionate campaigner for mental health, will present the annual perinatal mental health awards at this year’s Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) conference Diversity: Understanding and Reaching the Missing Families.

The Perinatal Mental Health Awards will be announced at the MMHA conference on 6th September 2018 at Imperial College, London. The awards are for services and individuals who show excellence in the categories of inclusivity; anti stigma; peer support; training and family focus.

In addition to talking about her own struggle with postnatal depression following the birth of her daughter, Neev has spoken with the Duchess of Cambridge on maternal mental health and made a film on postnatal depression with the Heads Together campaign. Last year she joined MMHA’s chair Dr Alain Gregoire as an expert panellist on the BBC 5 Live ‘Mum Takeover’ and worked on ‘The Mental Health Minute’ when 300 radio stations in the UK joined together on Mental Health Awareness Week.

Book your ticket for the conference here.

Follow us on @MMHAlliance using #MMHAconf2018 #MABIM. Follow Neev @neevofficial.

The annual MMHA conference is funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.

Working in a perinatal mental health team

Claire Marshall (pictured left) and Jane Matfin are specialist nurses working in the Hull and East Riding Perinatal Mental Health Liaison Service..

The service supports women with pre-existing or newly emerged mental health problems within the perinatal period. The birth rate for women in this area is approximately 6,500 per year. The team consists of nurses, a consultant psychiatrist, therapist and support workers who all work collaboratively with GPs, midwives, health visitors and social workers.

Claire and Jane have worked in mental health for over 20 years and moved into perinatal care after working in inpatient units, emergency mental health services and leading/managing teams in these areas. Here they talk about the challenges and rewards of being part of a perinatal mental health team.


What made you decide to move from working in crisis mental health care to the perinatal team?

Jane: I felt that I wanted to move from crisis mental health care after many years in that area, where interventions are often short-term with a high turnover of patients. I already knew the staff in the perinatal team and had good working relationships. I valued the opportunity of working in a smaller team with a clearly defined patient group. I feel strongly about women’s place in society and their mental health, and the changes and effects that motherhood can have on their lives.

  Continue reading Working in a perinatal mental health team

Strengthening parent-infant mental health in Warwickshire

Sophy Forman-Lynch has worked in the field of public health for 24 years in the UK, Pakistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and India.

She has worked in maternal and child health, mental health and well-being, alcohol and substance misuse, offender health, sexual health and asset-based community approaches.

Sophy is currently working for the Public Health Team in Warwickshire County Council with a focus on the ‘early years’. This includes involvement in the re-commissioning of health visiting services.

In 2016 Warwickshire’s multi-agency strategic Smart Start Programme undertook three pieces of research to hear the voices and experiences of over of 1,030 Warwickshire parents of children aged 0-5 years (including expectant parents), and 275 multi-agency staff working with expectant parents and young families.

Parents and workers told us that more needed to be done to promote and support parent-infant mental health and wellbeing in Warwickshire.

The experience of loneliness and social isolation amongst new parents was common, and was frequently reported to have had a significant impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Continue reading Strengthening parent-infant mental health in Warwickshire