Perinatal Mental Health Service
Mental health problems are very common in the perinatal period and up to 1 in 5 women struggle with their wellbeing during this time. We know that women often suffer in silence, but we also know with the right treatment and support that the prognosis is good.
The Gloucestershire Perinatal Mental Health Team prioritise women with serious and complex mental health needs, including those who have experienced trauma and loss. We also offer expert advice to women considering pregnancy if they have a severe mental health diagnosis, or have experienced a previous significant postnatal illness. We see women from pregnancy to approximately the baby’s first birthday; this can be for longer if indicated.
We are a multidisciplinary team made up of a consultant perinatal psychiatrist, specialist nurses, clinical psychologist / therapists, occupational therapist, social workers, nursery-nurses, specialist midwives and peer support workers.
Call 01452 894952
Accessing the service
Your midwife, GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional can refer you. If you are already working with a mental health team such as a recovery team, or Let’s Talk or if you are under the care of crisis team then they may refer into our service. We can work jointly with other mental health teams to ensure that your perinatal needs are met.
Why have I been referred to the service?
There are various reasons why you may have been referred. Perhaps:
- you have been treated for a mental health problem in the past and you are planning a further pregnancy or are already pregnant.
- your GP, midwife, obstetrician or health visitor feels that you may be unwell and could benefit from our help.
- there is a family history of certain mental health problems, such as bipolar affective disorder or postpartum psychosis, which can sometimes increase the risk of mental health problems after childbirth.
- you have become mentally unwell after experiencing the loss of a baby.
- you have experienced birth trauma, which is significantly impacting on your mental health.
I’ve been referred, what happens next?
We will either contact you by phone to discuss the referral or alternatively we may send you an appointment letter with an assessment date. This assessment may be in person or via video link.
With your agreement we work with your partner and family members and are available to answer any questions or concerns.
If you are unable to keep your appointment we ask that you give us as much notice as possible. This allows us to make best use of our clinical time. To cancel or rearrange your appointment please call us.
If you need an interpreter to be present or require any specific support to attend your appointment please inform let us know when you receive your appointment letter.
How long will I have to wait for an appointment?
We aim to see everyone within 6 weeks of referral, the majority we try and see within 2 weeks. An appointment will take around one hour. We want to support you and your family, so please feel free to bring whoever you wish to your appointment.
What can I expect from the first appointment?
An assessment that embraces what is important to you in your pregnancy or the postnatal period and gives you the time to talk through any concerns you may have about your mental health. At the end of the assessment we will make a plan of care and you will get a written letter reflecting on the points raised during the assessment.
If it is felt that you don’t need the input of our team we will offer advice and look at alternative support for you, which might include; Let’s Talk, our Infant Mental Health Team, Home start or other local support groups.
Confidentiality and consent
When you talk with a health professional in private you will expect that what is said remains confidential. This principle is central to trust between patients and their doctor or other health professionals. Details of your care and treatment, including anything you tell us, remain confidential and will only be shared within our multidisciplinary clinical team (which includes health and social care staff) if necessary.
All health professionals are bound by law and professional codes of conduct to this duty of confidentiality to their patients.
How we can help
Following an initial assessment, if support from our team is needed, you will be allocated a lead healthcare professional who will be your main contact and will help to coordinate your care. We will work alongside you to create a care plan that will be tailored to meet your individual needs. Common treatments may include:
- Psychological treatments, including cognitive behaviour therapy, skills to help manage your emotions.
- Pregnancy and birth planning for women who have had a previous serious episode of mental illness.
- Advice in prescribing medication for mental health reasons in pregnancy.
- Help for women who are struggling to build a relationship with their baby, including support from our nursery nurses such as baby massage.
- Information about other services, for example Let’s Talk and community organisations such as Home-Start.
Dads and partners
Dads and partners play an important role in your recovery. We know that dads and partners of women experiencing mental health difficulties are more likely to experience mental health difficulties themselves. We therefore may offer your partner a review of his mental health needs. We know that it can also be a difficult time for partners and for their own wellbeing. With consent we work closely with them to support their individual needs.
If you are a dad or partner and are concerned about your mental health, the Dads Matter website has useful information.
Mother and baby unit
If you become increasingly unwell, we may talk to you about admission to a Mother and Baby Unit. This is a specialist hospital that will offer intensive treatment for you and your baby. Our nearest mother and baby unit is New Horizons in Bristol.
We want to hear about your experiences, whether good or bad to help us develop our services and make them better. We want to understand what is important to you about the care and treatment you receive.
We use your feedback to make improvements to our environments, our wards and to the services we provide.
Information for professionals
Referrals to our service can be made using the referral form via the Trust’s contact centre. Referrals are prioritised according to urgency.
The contact centre will contact the perinatal mental health team regarding urgent referrals to ensure prompt response. Urgent referrals are managed by a duty worker who will arrange an assessment appointment within the agreed time standard.
Our team can offer advice and guidance to all colleagues either prior to referral or for any concerns. The advice number is 01452 894952. A clinician will return your call within 24 hours for non-urgent calls.