Every year, Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (April 29 - May 5) helps to raise awareness of the challenges of motherhood and encourages mothers to seek help. With this in mind, local health professionals would like to remind new and expectant mums of the support they offer through the specialist perinatal service.
The service provides care and treatment to women with moderate to severe mental health difficulties related to preconception, pregnancy and the first post-partum year. Midwives and GPs can refer new and expectant mums to a specialist clinic, where they receive high quality care from a consultant perinatal psychiatrist and community psychiatric nurses who work together to provide a comprehensive service to mums and their infants.
Abigail Masara, a specialist mental health practitioner within the service, has the responsibility of assessing expectant mums, coordinating their care (which can be in clinic, at home or in hospital/children’s centres) and offers mild cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
“I love my job so much,” Abigail said.
“Meeting women at such a vulnerable time can be difficult but it is so rewarding for me to walk the journey alongside them and help them to recover and live a fulfilling life with their baby.
“I work as part of a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) with a great bunch of people who are always so supportive which also really makes a positive difference.”
Abigail’s mental health message to local mums is; “Just like a physical illness, mental health conditions can creep up on anyone. Don’t be scared to seek guidance because there is always help out there.”
The specialist perinatal community mental health service was set up across the Black Country in January this year, following an investment of £1.2million.
Lesley Writtle, Chief Executive at Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Senior Responsible Officer for Mental Health in the Black Country and West Birmingham said; “It is important we continue to help women in the perinatal period to feel able to talk about their mental health and get help as early as possible.
“By developing and enhancing perinatal mental health clinics across the Black Country, we can ensure local women and their families are provided with better, more timely support and treatment when they need it.”