Northamptonshire will become one of only ten locations in the country to pilot a new maternal mental health service this spring.
The service will provide assessment and psychological interventions to women who experience mental health conditions relating to the birth experience including birth trauma, fear of child birth (tokophobia) or pregnancy loss (still birth, miscarriage or neonatal death).
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT), is the community provider for mental health services in the county, and has been chosen to develop and trial a Maternal Mental Health Service (MMHS) as a pilot site during 2021-22 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
The new service will provide assessment and specialist psychological interventions, specialist midwifery input and peer support to approximately 90 women and their families, with specialist support, delivered through individual and group therapy. In addition to supporting individual women, the maternal mental health service will work alongside maternity and obstetric services to develop and embed trauma informed care.
The maternal mental health service will work closely alongside NHFT’s specialist perinatal mental health service which offers treatment for women who are experiencing or are at an increased chance of experiencing moderate to severe mental health conditions during pregnancy and up to one year after birth (known as the perinatal period).
The roll out of the new Maternal Mental Health Services will help to bridge the long-standing gap in provision which exists between primary care and community perinatal mental health services, which the NHS Long Term Plan seeks to fill across all areas of England by 2023/24. Psychological provision will focus on women who have experienced moderate to severe mental health difficulties directly related to their maternity experience. This will include infant loss, fear of childbirth and birth trauma.
Carly Galpin, Service Manager for Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service at NHFT, said: “It is great news that Northamptonshire has been selected as one of ten pilot locations in the country to deliver the new Maternal Mental Health Service.
“The new service will help to bridge the gap for this group of women who are experiencing mental health difficulties and are not currently receiving access to the specialist psychological therapy that they require, which is likely to benefit them during this period.”
Alison Gilbert, Chair of the Local Maternity and Neonatal System (LMNS) added: “This is such an important opportunity for the women across Northamptonshire who need our support and this pilot is very much welcomed.”
The service will mobilise in the spring, allowing women and people of childbearing capacity in Northamptonshire to refer to the service via their GP, midwife or health professional during their pregnancy. Further details regarding the new service will be published on the website.