One to one antenatal and postnatal support for mental health

NHS England | January 2019 | One to one antenatal and postnatal support for mental health

A one-to-one antenatal and postnatal support service for mental health, which has improved the outcomes and experiences of women throughout their pregnancy and postnatally is shared in a case study on NHS England’s Atlas of Shared Learning.


Two midwifery support workers in the community midwives team at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust developed the service in response to women sharing their anxieties around pregnancy or their mental health-often as early as their 8 week booking appointments.

During community visits the midwifery support workers recognised a need for a mental health service alongside parent craft – which was already being delivered on a one-on-one basis. Women also said that they felt rushed during the 15-minute appointment, unable to disclose their own thoughts and anxieties, as they wanted to prioritise the baby’s health.

After approaching their manager and gaining permission they researched perinatal mental health and undertook free distance learning courses from a local college in understanding mental health conditions and counselling skills to enhance their active listening skills.

A ‘Perinatal Mental Health Champions’ course was also undertaken so the midwifery support workers could train colleagues in perinatal mental health awareness. The two midwifery support workers teamed up as ‘buddies’ to provide a one to one antenatal and postnatal support service for mental health.

Midwives refer women to the service- all offered one to one support. The midwifery support workers phone women regularly and offer home visits to listen and signpost to relevant health professionals if needed. If women are identified at the time of booking their first antenatal appointment as possibly needing the service, they are contacted by the midwifery support workers to ask if they would like their input. The support workers  assist women throughout and up to 28 days postnatally.

Regular phone calls and home visits are documented and updates provided to appropriate health professionals. It aims to support women and their families as early as their first antenatal appointment to prevent any negative experiences and anxiety around pregnancy from building up into something more serious such as postnatal depression, postpartum psychosis or post-traumatic stress disorder (Source: NHS England).

Full details are available from NHS England

Partners of new mums with mental illness set to get targeted support on the NHS

NHS England | December 2018 |Partners of new mums with mental illness set to get targeted support on the NHS

Radical action was announced earlier this week by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens to support the partners of of expectant women and new mothers who are themselves suffering from anxiety, depression or more severe disorders such as psychosis will be automatically offered a comprehensive mental health assessment and directed to professional support if needed.

Simon Stevens said: “At what should be one of the happiest moments of our lives, caring for a partner suffering mental ill health when a new baby arrives is a difficult and often lonely experience. Alongside the backup and friendship of other new parents in NCT and other groups, the NHS has a role to play in helping support the whole family. These days dads and partners are rightly expected to be more hands on and NHS mental health services also need to step up and support families at times of extreme stress and anxiety.”


There is growing evidence of the mental health risk new and expectant fathers face. In the first six months after the birth of a baby, estimates put the prevalence rates of anxiety and depression symptoms in men at up to 10 per cent,  while 20 per cent of
women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy and the first year after birth (Source: NHS England).

In the news:

Nursing Times Perinatal mental health support to be expanded to partners of mothers

BBC News Mental health checks for new fathers

The Independent New Fathers to be offered mental health treatment on NHS 


Pregnant women recognize baby expressions differently depending on mental health history

Science Daily | October 2018 | Pregnant women recognize baby expressions differently depending on mental health history

A small-scale pilot study has found that expectant mums who have a history of depression or bipolar disorder interpret babies’ facial expressions and how they laugh or cry, in a different way to mums who have not experienced depression or bipolar disorder (control group). The research team found this to be the case even if the pregnant women are not currently experiencing mania or depression and could potentially identify an early-risk factor for the children (Source: Science Daily).


This was a pilot study comparing 22 pregnant women, with a history of depression, and 7 with bipolar disorder also currently well,  with 28  pregnant women with no history of mania or depression. In addition, 18 non-pregnant women were also tested as controls.

The findings of the study have been presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s (ECNP) Congress in Barcelona.

Full story at Science Daily 


Perinatal mental health

The Foundation for Mother & Child Health (FMCH), estimates the incidence of a mental health illness in mothers and fathers during pregnancy and after the birth of a child to be more than 1 in 10 women and more than 1 in 20 men around the world.

The causes of mental ill health during this time are reported to be due to a number of factors including Adverse Childhood Experiences, Trauma, Domestic Violence, Poverty and a prior episode of mental illness.  Research shows a mental illness present in either parent during the perinatal period adversely affects the physical and cognitive development of children in the family.

FMCH UK has, in collaboration with ForMed fIlms produced this short 6 minute animation explaining how parents may feel, the help they can access in the UK, and some self help strategies:


Children and young people’s mental health: focus group research

Department of Health and Social Care| August 2018 | Children and young people’s mental health: focus group research

The Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) funded  research into children and young people’s mental health.  DHSC funded  3 organisations: Youth Access, Young Minds and the National Children’s Bureau  to research the views of young people, parents and carers, and professionals about the proposals in the green paper.

This research was conducted as part of a 13 week consultation between December 2017 to March 2018, it received over 2,700 responses (Source: DHSC) .

The documents are available here:

Young Minds: student insights report on green paper proposals

Youth Access: consultations with young people on the green paper

National Children’s Bureau: Transforming mental health provision for children and young people


Maternal mental health checks

Review of the National Childbirth Trust Hidden Half report and GP consultation | Centre for Mental Health


Maternal mental health difficulties cause untold distress and suffering to women and their families, and cost the UK £8.1 billion each year. This report, commissioned by the NCT as part of their Hidden Half campaign, explores the implications of extending the current six-week health check for babies to include a consultation about the wellbeing of the mother.

We found that resourcing GPs to offer a ten-minute appointment about the mother’s health would cost around £27 million a year. But this could help to identify more women who are experiencing mental health difficulties after the birth of their child, and ensure that they receive timely, effective support.

The report concludes that an additional health check with GPs would provide an important opportunity to help women whose difficulties were missed during pregnancy. To make the most of their opportunity, GPs would also need training and advice on how to enquire about a new mother’s mental health.

Full report: Review of the National Childbirth Trust Hidden Half report and GP consultation