Support offered to families during Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week through online portal

SUPPORT is being offered during Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week through an online portal.

By Steve Deeks
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 10:08 pm

Solent NHS Trust is offering its support through its Family Assist Solent portal.

The portal offers useful information including on mental health guidance to expectant and new mothers, parents, and families when needed most.

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Kelly Pierce

All content is approved by local health professionals and offers safe, reliable information and support during pregnancy and birth.

Expectant or new parents are invited to register via their health visiting service and anyone with a child under two can sign up by visiting the portal.

Information is available on children up to age three, with more guidance for older children being developed.

Family Assist Solent is available to families living in Portsmouth and Southampton cities and the Isle of Wight, with registered users sent information throughout pregnancy and the different development stages of a child's life.

Kelly Pierce, consultant midwife in public health for both Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘We know that being a first-time parent or expanding your family can feel daunting and worrying and that this was heightened for many in West Sussex and beyond during the pandemic.

‘We knew it was important to create a Solent version of Family Assist to give instant information and guidance from professionals in clear and reassuring ways.

‘We also recognise that relatives and friends play critical roles in a parent's support network and helping them remain connected to those nearest to them. Family Assist Solent enables users to invite these people into the portal, enabling them to join in the overall parenting journey.’

Charlotte Gatehouse, specialist health visitor for infant mental health at Solent NHS Trust, added: 'A quarter of women experience mental health difficulties during pregnancy and the first two years after having a baby however evidence suggests there are many potential barriers to accessing support including insufficient information and stigma.

‘Family Assist Solent offers an opportunity to improve care by providing discrete and accessible information and connection with services at the earliest opportunity; raising awareness of mental health difficulties and the support available with the aim to break down stigma and empower parents to reach out and be involved in decisions about their care.’