Mental health team for postnatal women launched

Mums and depression
Mums and depression

Women with mental health problems linked to pregnancy and childbirth are being looked after by a new NHS team.

The perinatal mental health service, set up by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, started taking referrals on Friday.

The new team will help pregnant women and new mums from the Wakefield district, Barnsley, Calderdale and Kirklees.

Claire Lowe, the trust’s perinatal mental health team leader, said: “Pregnancy and childbirth is a uniquely vulnerable time for women where there is a substantially increased risk of developing an episode of mental illness, the most likely time in a woman’s life.

“Women will be able to receive the right care at the right time to allow them to manage their mental health in the best way possible and to succeed as parents.

“Perinatal mental health problems come in many shapes and forms, ranging from common mental illnesses that are easy to treat but can have a disproportionate impact on the baby, to really serious and unexpected mental illnesses, sometimes in people with no previous history of mental ill health.”

Women can be referred to the service by their GP, midwife or health visitor. The team includes perinatal practitioners, psychiatrists and an occupational therapist.

The service is based in Dewsbury but has staff covering all the areas served by the district’s mental health trust.

Perinatal mental illness during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth affects up to 20 per cent of women.

NHS England has pledged to improve access to perinatal mental health support in all areas of the country by 2020-21, with 30,000 more women a year getting specialist treatment.