The Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership’s Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Collaborative Programme continuously strives to improve services for people who experience poor mental health.
One of the Programme’s aims is to introduce new systems that will help people to stay well and to manage their conditions confidently. This includes creating new services where required, or identifying where there is a gap in the care that is currently provided.
In our region there has been an acknowledged gap in care for women with medium to severe mental health issues relating to pregnancy and birth who do not have a baby. This includes women without children with a fear of childbirth, women with birth-related post-traumatic stress disorder, women who have had a miscarriage or still-birth and women who have experienced having a baby removed at birth.
I am delighted to tell you that the HCV Partnership, working with our local specialist health providers, has been selected as one of only 10 areas in England to receive £500,000 of funding from NHS England/Improvement, to develop a pilot Maternal Mental Health Service to specifically support these women.
The Service will integrate maternity, reproductive health and psychological therapy for women experiencing mental health difficulties directly arising from, or related to the maternity experience, and who have previously not been eligible for specialist mental health support.
By bridging the gap the service can provide vital support for women who don’t fit the current mental health support criteria.
The first pathway we will focus on is tokophobia, a term used to refer to women with a fear of childbirth. Ladies who are pregnant or who have previously delivered a baby can currently access support for tokophobia under existing service criteria.
Soon we will also be able to support women with this fear who have not had a pregnancy. This could be women who have experienced severe trauma in their lives and for whom falling pregnant would cause them immense distress.
The second pathway will cover women with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In addition, the Partnership has also been awarded a further £300k for the scoping and research element of the work, which will be delivered by the University of Hull, meaning we can greatly enhance our knowledge and understanding of this specialist area of mental health care, and bring much-needed psychological support and therapy to women across the region.
The Maternal Mental Health Service will be provided by our partners, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, NAViGO, Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust and Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, and will build on existing work by targeting women and families who are experiencing severe anxiety, trauma and loss.
The Maternity and Mental Health Service, which links to the mental health aims of the NHS Long Term Plan, is expected to launch this month, with the aim of providing the service on a permanent basis from 2023.