New mental health hubs will be set up by April next, offering physical health exams and psychological therapy in one place
Becoming a parent brings a number of changes, both mentally and physically. Everyone experiences these changes differently and some need more support than others, but that support has not always been easy to come by.
Five years ago, a whopping 40% of England had no dedicated maternal mental health services. Things are getting better and now there are specialized services in each of the 44 local NHS areas in the country.
In 2019, the NHS released a long-term plan that pledged to provide more “evidence-based” support, including support from families and partners, to thousands of new, expectant and survivors. They’ll do this with mental health hubs or outreach clinics. The 26 locations should be open until next April and offer physical examinations and psychotherapy in the same building.
To date, investment in maternal mental health has focused on acutely ill mothers. The hope with these new clinics is that they can provide services to people with moderate to severe difficulties.
This support will be available from before conception – for those who wish to conceive and already have mental illness – until the child turns two. Currently, services are only available for the child’s first year of life.
Support for a variety of mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder and tokophobia (fear of childbirth), is supported for 1,001 days from conception.
“Tokophobia is one of the most common reasons we see low risk pregnant women in the hospital’s maternity unit. In both forms, women can suffer from severe anxiety and depression. It is therefore very important that they are identified and treated as quickly as possible, ”says Dr. Ellie Rayner, obstetrician, gynecologist and founder of The Maternity Collective, told Happiful.
Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director for NHS England said: “Every woman has a unique experience with pregnancy and motherhood, and some need additional support to cope with mental health problems, which can range from anxiety to severe depression .
“I would encourage any mother in need of this assistance to come forward, knowing that her sanity and well-being are of the utmost importance and should not be ashamed of accessing the help she needs.”
One of the new locations in Devon opened in January this year, and others are slated to open “within months”. All 26 are scheduled to be operational by April 2022, and all 44 local NHS areas are planned to have their own hub by April 2024.
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