Perinatal Mental Health Support
The Cheshire and Mersey Specialist Perinatal Service supports mums, babies and families where mum is either experiencing or at significant risk of complex or severe mental health difficulties during the perinatal period. The perinatal period means throughout pregnancy and up until the baby's first birthday. We have three teams – one in Liverpool and Sefton, one in Mid Mersey and one in Cheshire and Wirral.
What is perinatal mental health?
Although it can be a wonderful time, pregnancy and being a new parent can be a stressful, overwhelming and worrying time too. At least 20% of new mums will struggle with their mental health during this period – most commonly experiencing some form of low mood or anxiety.
A smaller group of mums will go on to experience more severe struggles with their mental health. That might include more severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, extreme fear of birth, post traumatic stress (sometimes relating to a recent or previous experience of childbirth), or more rarely post partum psychosis. In some cases mums might also really struggle to form a bond with their baby, or feel able to meet their baby's needs as their head is full up with difficult feelings.
Those who have a history of mental health difficulties are at even greater risk, but a significant number struggle for the first time in this period and it's important that all women's experiences are taken seriously.
Why you might be referred
There are lots of services available to help women who are struggling. Many of our local maternity providers have specialist perinatal midwives who are able to offer advice, support and signposting to the women using their services. There are several voluntary sector providers who can offer support and your local Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies service can also be a good source of support (if you Google "IAPT" and your local area it should be easy to find them).
Where you or others are more concerned about your mental health, because for example:
- Your low mood or anxiety are significantly impacting on your ability to function day to day
- You are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
- You are having unusual experiences which mean you aren't always feeling in touch with reality
They might refer you to our team. It's really important to remember that we are here to support you, lots of mums tell us that they're scared of their baby being taken away and this is an incredibly rare thing to happen. Our work is about helping you to feel back to yourself again and able to enjoy being a mum.
What the service can offer?
Our work falls roughly into three areas:
Preconception planning appointments
We offer one-off preconception planning appointments for those who have a history of significant mental health problems, want to discuss their medication prior to pregnancy or have specific concerns about how pregnancy or parenthood could impact on their mental health.
Specialist assessment and intervention
We have a multidisciplinary team of professionals in each area, which consists of:
- Perinatal psychiatrists
- Clinical psychologists
- Occupational therapists
- Mental health nurses
- Perinatal support workers
- And of course our dedicated admin staff who also understand what you might be experiencing
If you are offered an assessment appointment this will usually take around and hour and gives the clinician that you meet a chance to get to know you and what you're experiencing, and come up with a plan together for what might be helpful. That might include medication, psychological or occupational therapies, practical support to help you get back to where you want to be, and support with your own feelings and / or your relationship with your baby. We are also able to support families to access to specialist inpatient settings where necessary.
Support to other professionals
We are very keen to work with other professionals to ensure that families have a smooth pathway through services. That might include offering support around mental health to our maternity or health visiting colleagues (among others), or support around the perinatal context to our mental health colleagues.
We provide telephone advice to professionals throughout our office hours about anyone they have concerns about (even if their needs may not be severe enough to access a direct service). This can also include offering advice to GPs and others about prescribing in this period.
We also offer a range of training packages and are really keen to tailor this offer to the needs of our local providers so please do get in touch if this is of interest.
Unfortunately we aren't able to accept self referrals to our service at this point so if you would like to be referred please speak to our GP, Midwife, Health Visitor or any other professional that you're working with.
For professionals wishing to discuss anything or make a referral, the contact details for our three teams are as follows:
North West Boroughs Team:
Cheshire and Mersey Specialist Perinatal Service – North West Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust
Specialist Perinatal Service,
Hollins Park Hospital,
Tel: 01925 275 303
Cheshire and Wirral Team:
Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Team – Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Cherrybank Resource Centre,
Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service - Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
Liverpool Womens Hospital,
Tel: 0151 702 4012