Success for project helping new Portsmouth mums combat mental health issues

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has helped more than 100 mums in Portsmouth in the first year of its perinatal community mental health service
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust has helped more than 100 mums in Portsmouth in the first year of its perinatal community mental health service

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MORE than 100 new mums have been helped in the first year of a project to combat mental health problems.

Last year, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was given £800,000 to expand its specialist mental health service to Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and north east Hampshire.

They listened to any fears or worries I had, and put a birth plan in place which helped immensely.

Rebecca Thresher

In Portsmouth, the scheme has helped mums and their families with 114 referrals and 409 appointments.

Rebecca Thresher, from the city, is one of the mums supported by the new service.

The 32-year-old said: ‘After suffering with post-natal depression and a bi-polar diagnosis after the birth of my first child, it took me seven years to pluck up the courage to have another one.

‘I was introduced to the new team early on, in mid-pregnancy, and I am absolutely amazed by the support they have given me.

‘They listened to any fears or worries I had, and put a birth plan in place which helped immensely.

‘After giving birth to my second son, I have been able to contact them regarding my mental health and the whole team are a phone call away.’

To help strengthen her connection with her baby, Rebecca also signed up for a baby massage programme.

She added: ‘The baby massage course provided by the team is designed to help strengthen the bond between mother and baby, which has amazing benefits for us both.

‘I can’t thank Steph, Claire and the rest of the team enough – they do an incredible job and have made this time round a really positive experience.’

Southern Health’s perinatal mental health team helps mothers experiencing severe mental illness, through a programme of treatment and support in the community.

Community-based care includes advice and support over the telephone, outpatient consultations in clinics, GP surgeries or at home, medication and a range of therapy sessions.

Claire Walsh, a perinatal community mental health nurse, said: ‘A fifth of women suffer from some sort of mental illness either during the course of pregnancy or soon after giving birth.

‘It can be a very bewildering and scary experience for new mums and this is why the service is so crucial for families.’