Today is World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day, which falls in Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (4-10 May), and is a week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental illness during and after pregnancy. It is lead by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership UK (PMHP UK).
It’s all about raising public and professional awareness of perinatal mental illness, advocating for women affected by it, and helping them access the information, care and support they need to recover.
Perinatal mental health refers to a woman’s mental health during pregnancy and the first year after birth. This affects more than one in 10 women in the UK each year. This includes mental illness existing before pregnancy, as well as illnesses that develop for the first time, or are greatly exacerbated in the perinatal period.
Examples of perinatal mental illness include antenatal depression, postnatal depression, anxiety, perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder, postpartum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These illnesses can be mild, moderate or severe, requiring different kinds of care or treatment. If untreated these illnesses can have a devastating impact on women and their families.
At the Trust we are committed to supporting women and their families, during this difficult time. We want women and families to know that there is help available local to you. Please speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor and they may start some treatment and advise on where you can get help and make referrals if needed. As a specialist Perinatal Mental Health Community Team, we support and treat women with serious mental health need during this time in their lives but we are not the only source of information and support. The links below can direct you to resources, including the local Charity, Open House. Any health professional can refer to Perinatal Psychiatry.
We know the COVID-19 situation could be making some pregnant women and new mums more anxious but know there is support available. It is important you get the help you need. We are still able to meet with women when we need to, using suitable protective equipment, but we continue to provide care to most of our women over video calls (and if the internet fails we can use the phone!).
As well as our services a directory of maternal maternal mental health support services during COVID-19 has been shared from PMHP UK member, Eve Canavan. It includes an overview of the illness, symptoms and resources. On Netmums, there is also a resource around looking after yourself more compassionately when you may be more concerned about your emotional health.
The message we would add, as a team that has worked with women with perinatal mental health problems for many years, is that women recover. You are not alone and help is available in the form that suits you and your family best.