Twenty per cent of women will suffer from some sort of mental illness either during the course of pregnancy or soon after giving birth. However, mums currently face dramatic levels of iniquity in this area of healthcare across Hampshire – that is until now.
Southern Health’s award-winning mother and baby mental health team has successfully obtained funding to extend its specialist perinatal community services to three adjoining areas within the Wessex region - Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and North East Hampshire & Farnham. Combined, the three areas see 6,500 new births every year. The new service’s reach will be in addition to the rest of Hampshire, which already enjoys support from the specialist team.
The NHS Trust’s perinatal team manager, Jenny Walsh commented: “With the help of our local commissioners, we’re pleased to be offering our specialist services to even more mums across the Wessex area. The service, worth more than £800,000 each year, will start immediately. It will directly tackle the currently unfair system which can mean that there are pockets of no service surrounded by areas with access to some of the best services in the country, even between neighbours with only one postcode digit difference.”
The announcement is the latest of three pieces of news for the NHS service run by Southern Health. The community perinatal team is the first in the country to receive independent accreditation from the Royal College of Psychiatry. It means that the perinatal service is now ‘double accredited,’ as its inpatient unit in Winchester has already received its own accreditation. This is after the service was named national ‘Psychiatric Team of the Year’ at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Awards three years ago.
In addition, the BBC1 ‘My Baby, Psychosis and Me’ programme - which aired earlier this year and which filmed the team as they cared for a number of vulnerable mums and their babies - won Best Documentary Award at last month’s 2016 Mind Media Awards.
Southern Health’s perinatal mental health team helps mothers experiencing severe mental illness through a programme of treatment and support in the community and in its specialist inpatient unit in Winchester – where mums and their babies can stay until they are well enough to be at home. Community-based care includes advice and support over the telephone; outpatient consultations in clinics, GP surgeries or at home; support and guidance for an individual’s family; medication; and a range of therapy sessions.