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Grant award to provide early mental health support to vulnerable new mums

A new project is being developed in Norfolk to reduce the number of babies in care and help provide support for vulnerable parents.

Norfolk County Council and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust have successfully bid for more than £600,000 of government funding to create new ways of working that will support mums with postnatal depression and post-puerperal psychosis.

The grant, from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) Transformation and Challenge Award, will help psychologists to work with groups of mums with mental health conditions, addiction or learning difficulties, as well as teenage parents and those suffering from domestic violence.

The project will bring social workers and health professionals together to assess and plan the care for the parents and their children. This will include group therapy sessions where mums can provide support to one another, help to understand their problems and find ways to overcome them.

A pilot project has already taken place with seven mums whose children were at risk of coming into care. In all of these cases their babies have been able to stay with them because of the ongoing support.

James Joyce, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “We must reduce the number of children coming into care in the county because we know that in the majority of cases children do much better at home.

“Our early help strategy is about making sure that families have support as soon as problems begin to arise and that we can work with parents to understand their needs and help them to address the issues that might be affecting their ability to look after their children safely.

“For some mums the postnatal period can be a very difficult time and we know that those suffering from depression and psychosis after birth are at a greater risk of harming themselves or their children.

“That is why it is so important to ensure that the support and help is available and that parents do not feel alone. This project will provide help from professionals and other mums in the same situation, supporting the emotional well-being of parents and their very small children.”

Norfolk has a higher number of babies coming into care than its statistical neighbours and it is hoped that the project will reduce the numbers of children becoming “looked after,” helping to improve their lives and saving thousands of pounds.

The project will bring together psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and social workers, delivering services via Children’s Centres

Hospitals, specialist midwives and health visitors will also play a part in supporting the work.

Andy Goff, CAMHS Service Manager (Coast), at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This joint venture is an important example of public sector organisations working together to promote better outcomes for young people and their families.

“Bringing the expertise of social workers and health professionals together can only help improve the health of new parents and improve the parent/infant relationship which is so vital in promoting life long positive mental heath.” ​