North Devon’s perinatal mental health team continues to grow

Alison Collins, Mandy Lane, Ruth Cole and Jacky Francis from the perinatal team are supporting our L

Alison Collins, Mandy Lane, Ruth Cole and Jacky Francis from the perinatal team are supporting our Let's Talk About It campaign. - Credit: Archant

Mothers-to-be are receiving mental health support in North Devon thanks to growing perinatal team.

North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple. - Credit: Archant

The success of the region’s perinatal service could have a positive impact on the mental health of North Devon’s next generation.

This is the message from the perinatal team based at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH), which has seen the service grow in the three years it’s been running.

The service, which provides conception, antenatal, and some postnatal support for mums-to-be with mental health issues, started with the equivalent of one full-time person in 2013.

Now there is a whole team, and team leader Jacky Francis and consultant psychologist Alison Collins hope the service will continue to expand.

Let's Talk About It - the North Devon Gazette's campaign on mental health.

Let's Talk About It - the North Devon Gazette's campaign on mental health. - Credit: Archant


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The team, based at the Ladywell Unit next to the maternity suite, has 40-50 referrals a month, which mostly come from the midwife or GP.

“If a midwife identifies any mental health concerns, they will refer the mother to us, and we will decide what the best course of action is,” said Jacky.

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“This could be anything from general sign-posting, to whether we need to link in with the health visitor, or even consultancy time which we do one afternoon a week.”

Dr Collins said around 10 per cent of mothers have antenatal depression, and this is a statistic which has remained pretty static in the time the service has run.

Although the team can only provide postnatal care if the mother has been referred to them during pregnancy, it is a service they hope one day they will have funding for.

Dr Collins said: “Attachment relationships are really, really important for our mental health.

“The first attachment relationship you have is between mum and baby, and we are trying to get that right, which will help hugely as the child grows up.”

Threats to North Devon’s maternity unit could make life more difficult for the team, but it’s something they say they will ‘take as it comes’.

Alison added: “North Devon will always need perinatal services; and whatever happens, we will continue to provide this service.”

The most important message the team wants to get across is that anyone can pick up the phone and call them, without a referral.

“If you’re concerned about yourself or a pregnant relative; if you just want to know what we do; we can always give general advice and help,” added Jacky.

Contact the perinatal team directly on 01271 322772 or dpn-tr.perinatalNorth@nhs.net

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