06 February 2017

Launch of the Specialist Community Perinatal Mental Health Team

LaunchcollageThe new Specialist Community Perinatal Mental Health Service (SCPNS) was officially launched this week.

The SCPNS, run by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), is commissioned to support women who experience high risk mental health problems during and after pregnancy, and for their infant up to the age of one year.

The service, initially commissioned by Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group, is expanding following a successful collaborative Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire bid to the NHS England Perinatal Mental Health Community Services Development Fund. Funding was awarded to provide a service to Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

The SCPNS has a shared care ethos, working closely with primary care, maternity services, adult mental health teams, early years services and independent sector organisations to ensure that all health professionals have access to specialist advice and guidance on managing all women with mental health needs throughout the perinatal period, and that those women have access to specialist assessment, treatment and care planning.

The service will provide an advice and guidance service to all health professionals, support to women already using secondary mental health services where psychiatric disorder predates pregnancy and is expected to continue beyond, plus new referrals of perinatal presentations.

Service users, carers, voluntary sector supporters and media gathered at Bristol Zoo Pavilion to meet the team and hear more about how the service will operate. Commissioners and professionals spoke about the 10-year journey to develop the specialist service and the challenge of keeping perinatal mental health high on the agenda.

Most movingly, the event heard from three service users about their experience of perinatal mental health services and their support for the new SCPNS, which complements the care already provided at New Horizon mother and baby unit.

Dr Leanne Hayward, AWP's Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Lead said, "As a service, we are in a very unique and privileged position. We have the opportunity to support mothers, infants and their wider family at an incredibly important and precious time in life. By intervening early, providing specialist advice, interventions and education, we have the perfect opportunity to facilitate recovery, promote well-being and attachment between mothers and their babies, to raise awareness and to reduce the impact of mental health conditions on the next generation."

Former service user Emma Pick said, "The thought of being unwell again absolutely petrifies me if I'm honest. However it's so reassuring to learn of this specialist team, who would be in a position to support mums that have experienced acute post natal depression and anxiety previously." 

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