Dr Jonathan Evans and Inge Shepherd, Directors of the Improving Perinatal Mental Health Health Integration Team (IMPROVE HIT), give an update on progress in 2015-16.
We are working to ensure there is a comprehensive pathway in place for women and their families who experience mental health problems during their pregnancy, and in the first year of their child’s life. During the last year we have focused on gaps in the pathway, the ongoing education of professionals and the public, and identified good opportunities for service improvement.
To ensure a smooth pathway of care and consistent support for families, we have assisted Bristol CCG with developing a business case for a specialist community perinatal mental health service, using a shared care model with primary care, maternity, adult mental health and early years services. The business case has been agreed and the team will be recruited by October 2016.
The education of professionals and the public has continued to be a strong theme for us. Bluebell, our partners in patient and public involvement, have produced five short animated films illustrating mothers’ and fathers’ personal experiences of mental health issues. These powerful films, funded by the Wellcome Trust, have been used to great effect in training and workshops.
We have set up a five day course for midwives and mental health nurses, held at UWE, to improve knowledge and awareness of perinatal mental health among professionals. This was organised by our work stream lead for teaching, Dr Rona Lockyer-Shepherd.
We have helped link midwifery services with Children’s Centres to increase women’s’ engagement with the centres during pregnancy. Linked to this, we submitted an application for funding to understand more about the relationship between perinatal mental health and parenting, and interventions that can prevent perinatal mental health problems. We are seeking funding to develop interventions for fathers in collaboration with the Fatherhood Institute, and working with Dr Deeraj Rai to look at the risks and benefits of antidepressant use during pregnancy using a large primary care database.