£1.3 million mental health support service for new and expectant mothers

Date: 26 Nov 2016

Category: Services

New and expectant mothers in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire will now have access to specialist mental health support, thanks to new funding.

3000 women a year in this area have concerns about their emotional wellbeing either during pregnancy or shortly after their baby is born. As many as 400 of those women will experience serious mental health problems.

The new perinatal mental health service for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, worth £1.3 million over three years, will ensure those women with the most serious mental health needs will get fast access to specialist care.

Run by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), the specialist team, which will include a consultant psychiatrist, clinical psychologist and specialist practitioners, will ensure healthcare professionals are better equipped to identify women who have, or are at risk of developing mental health problems.

This will mean women and their families can get consistent, reliable information and practical support, as soon as they need it.

This new service will build on investment already made by NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver a new specialist service which began in November.

"As many as 400 women in this area every year will experience serious mental health problems during or after their pregnancy. The impact can be very serious, not just for the woman and her family, but for the long-term emotional health of her baby. This new funding means we can expand the highly skilled, specialist care already set up for Bristol – across the whole area. We are delighted to have been chosen by NHS England as one of the first places to receive this funding. As the service evolves, we will be able to share our experience and expertise for the benefit of pregnant women and new mums not only in our area, but across the country."

- Dr Kirsty Alexander, clinical lead for maternity services speaking on behalf of BNSSG CCGs

"This is a fantastic investment in making mental health support and treatment more accessible to new and expectant mothers and we are delighted to be partners in delivering this service."

- Paul Townsend, managing director for AWP’s specialised services

The perinatal mental health team will work in partnership with maternity services, adult mental health, GPs, health visitors and other professionals as well as community organisations such as Bluebell Care and Mothers for Mothers.

This wide involvement will also be key to reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues during and after pregnancy.

If women or their families have concerns about mental health during pregnancy they should speak to their midwife, health visitor or GP.

This investment is part of a wider NHS England investment to provide more support for pregnant women and new mums suffering mental illness as well as to improve care for the many people with mental health problems attending A&E in crisis.

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.

For more information go to NHS England.

Bristol mental health services