More pregnant women and new mums experiencing mental health problems in Hertfordshire will be supported by NHS specialists, thanks to a funding boost announced on Tuesday 8 May.
Between 3% and 5% of women experience moderate to severe mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year of having a baby – this period is known as the perinatal period. In Hertfordshire, this equates to around 725 mums.
The Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) successfully bid for more than £400,000 to expand Hertfordshire’s Community Perinatal Team (CPT) – provided by Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) – to meet demand.
Hertfordshire’s CPT officially launched in April 2017 to support up to 300 women and their families, one of 20 new teams set up in the country to provide a comprehensive service to women with mental ill-health during pregnancy and up to a year after they’ve had their babies. The additional funding means the team can support at least 700 mums a year, as well as reducing waiting time, improving support for dads and partners and expanding work with other professionals.
Dr Sarah Cohen, Consultant Psychiatrist at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT), said: “The service is making a real difference to mums; we’ve had very positive feedback. It’s also been well-received by health and social care professionals we work with who are able to turn to us for advice for supporting women at this crucial time. We’re delighted that this funding means we can expand our team and support more families.”
One new mum from Hertfordshire, whose son was born last November, had suffered with anxiety and depression for some time before becoming pregnant. “Once I did become pregnant… I started to feel like ‘Oh no, what have I done?’ even though I really wanted to be pregnant and really wanted to have my baby I was starting to think ‘Is this the right choice? Have I made the right decision?’ Having the community perinatal team made a really big difference.
“When you have a baby you think these things are normal and you’re supposed to suffer but actually you’re not. There are people there who can help you even when you’re having a really hard time and it’s really difficult… there are people there who can make it better for you.”
There’s more information about the Community Perinatal Team at www.hpft.nhs.uk/perinatal Call the team on 0300 124 0939 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).