“You are not alone”: New online perinatal mental health service launched for mums and families

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A new dedicated website resource for mums and families has been created and designed by those who have been through perinatal mental illness themselves.

The East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) is launching the website on 7 May to coincide with Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Week, 3 – 9 May.

Up to 20% of new and expectant mums can experience severe mental illness and a key message of the new service is that anyone experiencing symptoms is not alone.

The website will be an important first point of contact for people and families who are expecting a baby who until now may not even be aware that there is a specialist mental health service for mums.

It features:

  • information about different kinds of perinatal mental health symptoms
  • case studies that show the kind of support people receive
  • a new online referral system that makes the process of reaching out for help straightforward and efficient.

Mental illnesses associated with pregnancy and childbirth include chronic stress or anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or postpartum psychosis and the earlier that sufferers reach out for help, the better for them and their baby.

“As a society, we are becoming more and more willing and able to talk about once taboo subjects like mental health,” said Justine Cawley, perinatal lead for the Trust.

“That can only be a good thing, and I want mums to know that perinatal mental illness is not unusual, but if undiagnosed or untreated early on, it can have a lasting impact on a mum and her child.

“That is why all my colleagues across the ELFT Specialist Perinatal Service want to work speedily and efficiently with anyone that reaches out for support.

“We can then work together to create a path to recovery as quickly as possible.”

ELFT is an NHS trust that has championed a system where patients and service users themselves take a full part in developing and managing therapeutic programmes of recovery using the ‘Trauma Informed Approach’ to care.

Mums who have been part of the creation of the website have reflected on the experience, with one saying: “For me I came to the website project later than everyone else but I felt honoured to be asked to be part of it.

“I feel a sense of pride to be part of something that will make a huge difference to mothers and families going forward. They will access the website at one of their hardest times emotionally and mentally but knowing they will be reading something created by mums that has understanding and warmth and compassion to it – not in a clinical language – will hopefully make them feel comfort and a sense safety.”

”I feel privileged to work with and alongside a diverse team of mums in redesigning the ELFT Perinatal website,” said another.

The ELFT Perinatal website launches on 7 May and can be found online at elft.nhs.uk/perinatal

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