Plans to boost perinatal mental health support

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    A new plan has been launched to increase support for mums suffering with perinatal mental health issues

    Perinatal mental health support for new and expectant mums in Plymouth is set to expand. 

    New and expectant mums in Plymouth struggling with their mental health will soon be able to access new support, thanks to an initiative by Livewell Southwest's Perinatal Mental Health Team.

    Perinatal mental health (PMH) refers to mental health issues that occur during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of the child, including post-natal depression and post-partum psychosis.

    Livewell Southwest is the provider of integrated physical and NHS mental health services and adult social care in Plymouth.

    According to recent figures, around 20% of new and expectant mums are affected by perinatal mental illness, with many still afraid to speak up and ask for help.

    The Perinatal Mental Health Team works to prevent, detect and manage mental health problems with a goal of helping women and their families to continue to live independently, prevent admissions to acute mental health wards and support the development of the relationship between new mums and dads with their babies.

    Jennifer Scarborough has recently joined the team as a Peer Support Facilitator and will oversee the peer support programme which will enable women experiencing low level perinatal mental health issues to access support from other women who have been through similar issues and experiences.

    Jennifer, who has worked as a midwife and psychology lecturer, said: "My role is to develop the programme using evidence-based interventions and putting together and developing training for peer supporters.

    "As a team we don't want to turn anyone who is referred to us away so the programme will act as a kind of safety net to ensure we can support even more women.

    "We will be recruiting mums with lived experience of perinatal mental health who are doing well in their recovery and who can provide their insights and support. I will make sure that they feel supported and have the tools they need to support the mums coming through the programme.

    "Having someone that you can talk to with no judgement who has been through a similar experience as you is so crucial."

    The team are planning to set up virtual sessions and outdoor meet ups like dog walking and a group allotment to provide a sense of community for the mothers.

    And it's not just mums and babies who will benefit but dads too as Jennifer will be setting up peer support groups for fathers.

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