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Specialist mental health service for new mums officially launches
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has today (23 February) officially launched a new specialist service which offers targeted help to new mums with severe post-natal depression and other complex mental health issues. 

The Suffolk Perinatal Mental Health Service provides specialist care to women from east and west Suffolk with conditions such as serious post and ante-natal depression and psychosis. It is available to women during pregnancy, at the time of birth and up to a year following the birth of their baby.

The service started seeing patients in October, but held an official launch event this morning at The Mix in Stowmarket, where staff explained more about the care they provide to around 100 colleagues from health, local government and social care. 

Speakers included two mothers who spoke openly about their experience of post-natal depression and the positive impact the service has had on their lives, as well as NSFT Chief Executive Julie Cave and staff working in the service. 

Dad Mark Williams also talked about his six-year battle with post-natal depression following the birth of his son Ethan in 2004. Mark, from Wales, began having panic attacks after Ethan’s traumatic birth, going onto suffer a mental breakdown in 2011. He was prescribed medication and cognitive behavioural therapy which helped with his recovery, and is now an author, blogger, trainer, public speaker and founder of Fathers’ Reaching Out, which offers awareness and education to others in similar situations. 

The Suffolk Perinatal Service is run by a consultant psychiatrist, two senior nurses and an administrator, who provide a range of support and interventions to women with severe mental illness for up to a year following the birth. The team also work closely with colleagues within the community who provide perinatal care, helping them to identify and support women who may be at risk of presenting with mental health difficulties. 

Since the service began, the team has helped around 50 service users and trained 200 students, midwives, social workers and colleagues from the third sector and primary care on the signs and symptoms they should be looking out for. 

Helen Jackson, Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist with NSFT, said: “We are really pleased to be able to officially launch this important new service, which is already having a really positive impact on scores of people’s lives by transforming care for women with the most complex needs. 

“As well as caring for people with conditions such as severe post-natal depression, we 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. We start working with women as early as possible, with support continuing for up to a year following the birth of their child when needed.

“Our aim is to work closely with our partners so that these women can benefit from joined-up care when they are at their most vulnerable and go on to enjoy a healthy happy life with their new baby.” 

The service has been commissioned by NHS West Suffolk and Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups and is being delivered in partnership with Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospitals. The NSFT team work closely with maternity 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. 

Dr Rosalind Tandy, a GP and mental health lead for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The commissioning of this new service is a positive step forward in the ongoing improvement of local mental health services. 

“NHS organisations across the patch are working together to deliver a joined-up service so that new mothers have the opportunity to best enjoy this very special time of their lives. It is certainly pleasing that in such a short time so many women have received help and support. 

“The CCGs will continue to work with health partners to support the delivery of safe and effective services which have a positive effect on people’s mental wellbeing.” 

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