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New and expectant mums across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire are going to get improved mental health services, thanks to new funding.

Perinatal mental health problems are those which occur during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child and affects up to 20 per cent of women.  It covers a wide range of conditions and if left untreated can have significant and long-lasting effects on the woman and her family. They can also have long-standing effects on children’s emotional, social and cognitive development.

In Herefordshire, the funding will be used to start a completely new service which will result in:

  • Greater access to psychological therapies and interventions
  • Specialist Perinatal Occupational therapists
  • Community Nursery Nurses to offer work related to maternal bonding

Dr Barnaby Major, Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director for ²gether in Herefordshire, said: “Improving support for pregnant women, new mothers and their partners is a key priority.

“We know that perinatal mental health issues have a huge impact on mothers, their babies and their wider families and networks. The impact is felt not only in the perinatal period, but for years to come.

“This investment is a significant step towards improving equal access to specialist mental health care and will improve the health and wellbeing of the population of Herefordshire.”

Dr Ian Tait, Chair and Clinical Lead for NHS Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Providing the right care in the right place and at the right time is the priority of everyone in the NHS.

“The targeted funding means we can do exactly that, putting the support which new and expecting mums need, where they can access it, when they need it.

“This is also a great example of how organisations are coming together across both Herefordshire and Worcestershire to benefit people across both counties.”

Gloucestershire was one of only 20 areas to be successful in receiving wave one funding last year. This was used to set up a specialist perinatal mental health team which supports pregnant women and new mothers who are experiencing post-natal depression and other emotional difficulties, as well as their babies and families. The service will now benefit from over £113k in extra funding to further expand and improve specialist community mental health support for women, their babies and families.

The service has been really successful since it started in July 2017, and has already received nearly 150 referrals.

Dr Michelle Doidge, Clinical Lead for Perinatal Mental Health Services at NHS Gloucestershire CCG, said:

“We are really pleased that our new service has already helped so many women to cope with and recover from their perinatal issues and are delighted to have been awarded this additional funding.

It will give the service a welcome boost; we will use it to expand and develop the team to provide specialist support to new mothers who are experiencing mental illness, helping them recover through expert advice, information and treatment.”

Jan Furniaux, Service Director, ²gether NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“This additional funding will enable us to build on the strong foundations and excellent work that the service has already put in place. Perinatal mental illness can have a deep and long-lasting effect on the whole family, so this funding will play a vital role in encouraging women to seek help early and get the support they need.”

Dawn Morrall, Clinical Lead – Better Births – Maternity Transformation Gloucestershire, said:

“We are delighted that this additional funding will allow teams in the county to provide additional support to women and their families.”

One in ten women experiences a mental health problem during their pregnancy and in the first year after birth, with depression and anxiety being the most common.

Providing high quality perinatal support to new mothers, newborns and their families is crucial to their ongoing wellbeing in life and is a high priority in Gloucestershire.