Call to look ‘behind the smile’ on mental health - The Evesham Observer

Call to look ‘behind the smile’ on mental health

Evesham Editorial 7th May, 2019   0

HEALTH chiefs in Evesham and Pershore are being urged to look ‘behind the smile’ and ask about mental health when meeting women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth.

As part of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week which runs until Sunday (May 5), NHS England is launching a series of videos to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Up to 20 per cent of women develop perinatal mental health issues during pregnancy or in the first year after birth.

But many pregnant women and new mums do not seek help as they believe there is a stigma attached, especially at a time when they are expected to be thrilled with the prospect of a new baby.

The videos cover maternal OCD; antenatal anxiety; postpartum psychosis; postnatal depression and maternal bonding difficulties and are for GPs, midwives, health visitors and other healthcare professionals to share with women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth to show that it is ok to address these feelings.

One of the mums who share their story on the videos is Leanne Howlett, who following the birth of her first child suffered postnatal depression.

“My experience was how hopeless life can feel. I thought it would be the happiest year of my life when my baby was born but it really wasn’t. I would get up and go out to lots of baby classes and put on a smile and pretend everything was okay but inside I was literally falling apart,” she said.

“With the extra support in place things did start to look up, it was a slow journey. If I hadn’t had support from the Perinatal Mental Health team that I needed I would never have seen the light.”

The pilot programme is part of a wider investment by NHS England in the Midlands region to support perinatal mental health services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

This includes funding a six-month pilot to fund seven GPs across six areas to support, educate and improve awareness amongst health professionals about the treatment and support available to women who are at risk or suffering maternal mental health issues.

Anyone experiencing such feelings can speak to their local GP or health visitor.

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