A special team to support new mothers and pregnant women with serious mental health difficulties is being set up in Hertfordshire.
The county’s two NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCG) have been given national NHS funds to develop a specialist service offering pre-pregnancy counselling to women with mental ill health and supporting new mums with conditions like severe postnatal depression.
The new community mental health service will be delivered over the next three years by local mental health services provider, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT).
“Figures suggest that at least 400 women in Hertfordshire have severe mental health needs in the weeks before and after birth, with another 1,375 having mild to moderate needs,” explained Cameron Ward, Herts Valleys CCG Interim Accountable Officer.
“The CCGs are working in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council to increase the support for parents-to-be and new parents showing signs of problems like depression or anxiety.”
HPFT will manage the service, which will support unwell mothers, their babies and partners, working alongside GPs, obstetricians and gynaecologists, midwives and health visitors already working with women to prevent their condition deteriorating.
Tom Cahill, HPFT Chief Executive, said: “We are excited about launching the perinatal service in the new year and look forward to using our experience and expertise at HPFT to support women with mental illnesses associated with childbirth. We know what a positive difference this early intervention approach will make for families in Hertfordshire.”
Dr Steve Kite, a Ware GP who leads on services for children and young people for East and North Hertfordshire CCG added: “This year has seen improved general understanding of perinatal mental health, in part thanks to storylines on EastEnders and The Archers, but we want to end the stigma and this team will help to achieve that.”
Statistics reveal that between 10 and 20% of women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby.
Teresa Heritage, Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Localism and Libraries, said: “The negative impact of mental health problems during the time before and after giving birth can have long term consequences, not only for mums to be and mothers but also for their children and partners.
“We want to encourage women to seek help early and for their families and friends to actively support them to do so, as this can really make a difference to their wellbeing. This new service is needed in Hertfordshire and I am really pleased that it will allow for early intervention and prevention for women in the county. Mums and family members can also speak to their midwife or health visitor or children’s centre worker if they are worried.”
Maria Bavetta, from the Maternal Mental Health Alliance Everyone’s Business Campaign, which calls for all women throughout the UK who experience perinatal mental health problems to receive the care they and their families need, wherever and whenever they need it, said: “I visited Hertfordshire earlier this year and was so impressed that so many different professionals were determined to make the mental health of new families a priority in the county. A specialist community team will provide women, their partners and families much-needed local accessible services.”
The CCGs and council are working together to deliver Hertfordshire’s £2m child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) Transformation plan to improve emotional wellbeing services for children and young people over five years. You can read Hertfordshire’s Transformation Plan for Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing 2015-17 here.
Note to Editors
The service will cost £272,198 this year and £807,972 in future years. NHS England’s Perinatal Mental Health Community Services Development Fund awarded Hertfordshire funding for three years: £204,140 for 2016-17 and £607,972 for 2017-18 and 2018-19, with the CCGs funding the remaining amount from the CAMHS Transformation budget. Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England will tell the Mind conference on Tuesday 29 November that £40m is to be allocated to 20 areas of the country to fund new specialist community mental health services for mums in the immediate run up to and after birth, and help reach 30,000 more women a year by 2021. A further £20m will be allocated next year.