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New service brings specialist support for Suffolk's mums
13/06/2017

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week - 12 to 16 June

New mothers from across Suffolk will soon be able to get targeted help for severe post-natal depression and other complex mental health issues when Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) launches its new specialist perinatal service.

The East and West Suffolk Perinatal Mental Health Clinic will offer specific help to pregnant women with pre-existing conditions as well as those who develop mental health issues following their child’s birth.

Due to launch later this summer, it will be run by a consultant psychiatrist and two senior nurses who will provide a range of support and interventions to women with serious mental illness for up to a year following the birth. The team will also work closely with colleagues within the community who provide perinatal care, while also helping them to identify women who may be at risk of presenting with mental health difficulties.

The service has been commissioned by NHS West Suffolk and Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups and will be delivered in partnership with Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospitals. The NSFT team will work closely with midwifery staff at both hospitals, as well as health visitors in the community and other stakeholders such as social services, to coordinate care so that women receive joined-up services.

The announcement comes during Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 12 to 16 June and highlights the importance of a baby’s first 1001 days, starting from its conception and continuing until it reaches its second birthday.

Mike Seaman, Service Manager for Acute Services in West Suffolk, has led the project for NSFT. He said: “We are really pleased to be able to launch this important new service, which will transform care for women with the most complex needs.

“As well as caring for people with conditions such as severe post-natal depression, we will also offer pre-conception counselling to women who already have a mental health condition, support for the rest of the family and training for other healthcare professionals. Our aim is to start working with women as early as possible, with support then continuing for up to a year following the birth of their child.

“By working closely with our partners, we will make sure these women benefit from joined-up care when they are at their most vulnerable.”

The service will offer around 750 appointments each year, with clinics taking place at both hospitals and follow up appointments available within the community.

Dr Rosalind Tandy, a Suffolk GP and mental health lead for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The introduction of this new service is a further development in the improvement of local mental health services, and one that will really help new mothers.

“Pregnancy and childbirth are complex events involving a mix of emotional, physical, psychological and lifestyle change which can lead to the reoccurrence of pre-existing mental health issues or for new issues to occur. Depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental illness during pregnancy and after birth.

“Pregnancy and motherhood can be joyful experiences and this service aims to give new mothers the opportunity to best enjoy this time of their lives.”

For more information about Infant Mental Health Week, visit: www.infantmentalhealthweek.com/

For press enquiries, please contact nsft.communications@nsft.nhs.uk