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New mental health service for expectant mums is launched

A brand new mental health service for expectant and new mums has been launched by North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership and NHS Ayrshire & Arran.

The Perinatal Mental Health Service is the first of its type in Ayrshire, with a team of psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists and nurses working with pregnant or post partum women with severe mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, OCD and eating disorders.

The service, which was set up using Scottish Government funding, not only benefits mums or mums to be, but also whole families – ensuring babies are less affected by parental mental health while growing up.

Any professional can refer to the team, including doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers and other health professionals, and the service’s new helpline has received more than 60 referrals since going live in November 2021.

Introducing the new Perinatal Mental Health Team

Supporting women to Stay Well during pregnancy and beyond

The team can also work with women who are pregnant – or trying to become pregnant – who are currently well but have a history of mental health problems such as post partum depression or bipolar disorder.

This can involve working with patients to produce a ‘Stay Well’ plan, including looking at adjusting medication to ensure that these conditions can be managed throughout the pregnancy and beyond.

They can also work in partnership with services such as CAMHS to provide an additional source of support, and it is hoped that peer support systems can also be set up in the future.

Kerry Meredith, Team Leader of the Perinatal Mental Health Service, said: “We are delighted to have a dedicated Perinatal Mental Health Service in Ayrshire and Arran after many years of working towards this.

“I feel privileged to be part of such an enthusiastic, motivated multidisciplinary team that is focused on providing care for women most in need during the perinatal period.”

Thelma Bowers, NAHSCP’s Head of Service for Mental Health, said: “It is an absolute pleasure to realise the launch of this critical and much anticipated important new service development, an ambition which is being delivered in alignment with our Ayrshire Mental Health Conversation strategic priorities and outcomes (2019-2027).

“This commitment will ensure earlier access for expectant and new mums to early identification of need, evidenced based treatment and timely mental health support, ensuring improved recovery rates and overall outcomes for women and their children within a whole family approach.

“It is exciting to see the benefits of this approach already being realised and we look forward to the new service going from strength to strength, as well as seeing the wider impact than can be achieved in promoting positive mental well-being within our communities.”

The Perinatal Mental Health Service can provide training to other services, such as helping staff to recognise the signs that a pregnant woman may be mentally unwell and in need of support.

To make a referral, or to find out more about the support available – including training for your service – email or call the Professional Advice Line on 01563 826880.

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