New mums struggling with poor mental health and postnatal depression are to be offered Skype consultations in a bid to make it easier for them to access the mental healthcare they need.
NHS England has committed to investing £365m to improving mental health services for new mothers. This figure was increased earlier this month when the national body revealed an additional £23m of funding.
As part of the investment, there will be four new mother and baby units and more than 200 specialist members of staff will be recruited. The new team will include 21 consultant psychiatrists and more than 100 nurses and therapists.
Claire Murdoch, director of mental health for NHS England, said: “With so many new mums having the joy of motherhood interrupted by mental ill health, improving care, investment and focus on this issue, is crucial.”
“Falling pregnant and becoming a mum is a hugely emotional experience, so having expert support available, including working with people’s partners as well as their wider family and social networks, to help manage the upheaval, means that women who are experiencing mental health issues don’t have to suffer and struggle alone.”
“Improving community access to mental health care is the cornerstone of NHS plans to improve services, and the investment in perinatal mental health will mean women and their families get targeted, specialised support at one of the most important periods of life.”
How common is postnatal depression?
It’s not unusual for women to feel a little sad, tearful or anxious in the first week or two after giving birth, but for most women, these feelings subside quite quickly.
However, in some cases, these symptoms can develop into postnatal depression and can last for months or even years following the birth of a child.
Postnatal depression is believed to affect more than 1 in 10 women within a year of giving birth.
What are the symptoms of postnatal depression?
Signs of postnatal depression include:
- Ongoing sadness and low moods
- Disinterest in the wider world
- Lack of enjoyment
- Lack of energy
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Withdrawing contact with other people
- Concentration problems
- Frightening and intrusive thoughts
Getting help with postnatal depression
It’s not yet clear when the NHS’ Skype consultations will begin. In the meantime, there are plenty of resources and services available for new parents struggling following the birth of a child.
Many women find that talking to family and friends about their feelings can help. As can making time to do things for themself so that they can continue enjoying many of the things they did before having a baby. Plenty of sleep, a healthy diet and regular exercise can also help.
GPs can often refer new mothers to a counsellor for therapy. Therapies can include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and guided self-help.
Some mothers may be given antidepressants either in addition to psychological treatment or as an alternative. Antidepressants work by balancing mood-altering chemicals in the brain. They can help to relieve symptoms and make it easier to function as before.
If the mother is breastfeeding, this will need to be taken into consideration before suitable antidepressants are chosen.