Devon and Cornwall have been chosen as sites to get dedicated mental health hubs for new, expectant and bereaved mums.
NHS England announced 26 new hubs are being set up across the country in a bid to bring together maternity services, reproductive health and psychological therapy under one roof.
In the next year, it is predicted that around 6,000 women will receive care and treatment for a wide range of mental health issues from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after giving birth, to others with a severe fear of childbirth.
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, said: “Every woman has a unique experience with pregnancy and motherhood and some will need extra support to cope with mental health issues that can range from anxiety to severe depression so I am delighted that mothers across all areas of the country will be able to access this help if they need it.”
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She added: “The NHS is here for everyone who needs help and the expansion of specialist care through the rollout of these maternal mental health services will strengthen the services already in place, enabling us to improve the quality of care and outcomes for many women.
“I would encourage any mum who needs this support to come forward safe in the knowledge that her mental health and wellbeing are of paramount importance and she should not feel ashamed of accessing the help she needs.”
As well as offering psychological therapies for new and expectant mothers the clinics will also provide training for maternity staff and midwives, NHS England said.
Where to get support for mental health
There are dozens of places to get online help, including web-chats, text help, phone-calls and even apps with games to help you manage your feelings.
If you are needing help or just want to know what is available to you, we have compiled a full list of a number of services here.
Below are just some of the helplines and websites that can help you.
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pete’s Dragons (01395 277780) provides specialist support and advice for those affected by suicide in any way via telephone or email at email@example.com.
Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation which speaks openly about suicide and supports teenagers and young adults who have may suicidal thoughts. You can also get in contact with Papyrus via text on 07786 209697 or email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opening hours are as follows; 9am – 10pm weekdays, 2pm – 10pm weekends, 2pm – 10pm bank holidays.
Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information. http://www.depressionalliance.org/
Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying. http://studentsagainstdepression.org/
The Sanctuary (0300 003 7029) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, for people who are struggling to cope – experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks or in crisis.
Andy’s Man Club now has four groups across Devon (Plymouth, Newton Abbot, Torbay, Exeter). It provides men with a safe, non-judgemental, confidential place to chat and get stuff off your chest. To gain access during lockdown, any man over 18 can email email@example.com.
Livewell Southwest provides integrated health and social care services for people across Plymouth and other parts of the region. For anxiety and depression enquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you feel worried about your mental health or that of a loved one or a friend, you can call the helpline on 0800 923 9323, which is the Livewell’s First Response Service. It is available to contact 24/7 by calling 0800 923 9323.
Livewell also run Chathealth, a text service used by health visitors and school nurses to support families and young people.
The service is available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, excluding bank holidays. During out–of–hours, anyone who texts the service will receive an automated message with advice on where to get help if their question is urgent.
Livewell ChatHealth 0-5 years Parents Service – 07480 635188
Livewell ChatHealth 5-10 years Parents Service – 07480 635189
Livewell ChatHealth 11-19 years Young Peoples Service – 07480 635198
SHOUT (85258) is a 24/7 UK crisis text service available for times when people feel they need immediate support.
By texting ‘SHOUT’ to ‘85258’ a Texter will be put in touch with a trained Crisis Volunteer (CV) who will chat to them using trained techniques via text. To get help or find out more about how Shout works, visit the Get Help page.
Every area will have one by April 2024 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to increase access to psychological support for women before, during and after pregnancy, it added.
Dr Giles Berrisford, NHS England’s national speciality advisor for perinatal mental health, said that around a quarter of women experience mental health problems in pregnancy and during the 24 months after giving birth.
He added: “These maternal mental health services will provide vital support, meeting the specific needs of these women.
“Their establishment will significantly contribute to the overall commitment of the NHS to enable at least 66,000 women with moderate to severe mental health difficulties related motherhood to access specialist care by 2023-24.”
As well as the sites in Devon and Cornwall, the eight other early sites will launch in Birmingham & Solihull, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Shropshire Telford & Wrekin, South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw, Lancashire & South Cumbria, Hampshire & Isle of Wight and Kent & Medway.
Jude Diggins, the Royal College of Nursing’s interim director of nursing, policy and public affairs, said: “These new, improved services could not come at a more important time.
“Having a baby is a life-changing experience and no one should have to go through this without the help and support they need.
“Sadly, this pandemic has placed even more strain on existing perinatal mental health services as isolation, loneliness and other factors take hold.
“The challenge for these new, more integrated, services will be, as before the pandemic, ensuring there are enough highly-skilled, mental health nursing staff to safely and effectively care for patients when our health and care services are already dealing with widespread shortages and vacancies.”