Maternal mental health(1 Post)
With the awareness of maternal mental health issues being raised in the media, I thought it might be useful to list some local resources available for those who need help.
A huge thank you to the wonderful Kathryn De Vecchi - local mum and mental health campaigner - for putting this together for us. She writes a blog which can be found here:
Lambeth and surrounding boroughs are relatively well served for "perinatal" mental health services. As always, it helps to know what you are looking for!
All pregnant and newly delivered women will have regular appointments with a midwife, who should also monitor mum's wellbeing. They do this by asking two mood-based questions during the booking-in appointment.
Mums who score highly on this measure, or who have a history of more serious mental health problems, may be referred to specialists at the "MAPPIM" team (http://cypdirectory.southwark.gov.uk/AtoZEntry.aspx?id=2264). This is a perinatal mental health service operating out of St Thomas and Kings hospitals. Mums may be offered appointments with a specialist psychiatrist, and other team members include specialist mental health midwives, Community Psychiatric Nurses, psychologists (adult and child development specialists) and occupational therapists. The most acutely ill mums will be offered an inpatient bed in the Mother and Baby Unit at the Bethlem Royal Hospital. This specialist ward provides intensive psychiatric care, as well as encouraging bonding with the baby and recovery as a new parent: www.slam.nhs.uk/our-services/service-finder-details?CODE=SU0320.
Mums who are at risk of a severe mental illness following childbirth will be encouraged to help write their own care plan, with special measures in place during and after the birth to promote mental health. This could include access to a private or side room in the postnatal ward, as well as help with the baby overnight to promote rest. There will also be discussions around appropriate medication and pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some of these mums, upon discharge from the midwifery service, may be offered visits from a specialist health visitor. In Lambeth this is the "early intervention health visitor".
Mums who do not require the specialist service of MAPPIM may still access NHS support through their GP or health visitor. GPs can prescribe common antidepressants and anti anxiety medication. They can also signpost to other services such as talking therapies. Mums can also self refer to the local "IAPT" service, for a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Perinatal women are normally given priority access to this service. See: slam-iapt.nhs.uk
For many women, "self help" and/or peer support can be the answer - particularly at a time of long NHS waiting lists and mental health stigma. There are numerous online resources, to guide a person through (for example) mindfulness and relaxation. Take a look at the Head Space app for a good example: www.headspace.com. Support groups operating in the area include Cocoon Family Support, who currently work out of Coin Street Children's Centre: www.cocoonfamilysupport.org. Other sources of support include the charities Home Start (http://www.home-start.org.uk) and the Family Action Partnership (https://www.family-action.org.uk). The local branch of Mind maintain an extensive database of local mental health charities and support groups (not specific to perinatal mental health): lambethandsouthwarkmind.org.uk/directory/?tab=alpha.
If you are in crisis, or experiencing distress, please do not hesitate to call 999 or visit your local A&E. You can call The Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, on free phone 116 123.
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