Maternity mental health support needs to improve in Telford and Wrekin, says watchdog
A health watchdog says there is a lack of support available for parents dealing with maternity mental health issues in Telford and Wrekin.
Healthwatch Telford & Wrekin has published a report after gathering the views and experiences of 215 people.
The group was asked by The Local Maternity System (LMS) to conduct some work on perinatal mental health, asking for people to share their experiences from planning their pregnancy through to those early stages of parenthood.
The perinatal stage begins at the time of conception until the first year after the birth of the child.
The group says the study has revealed that there is a lack of support available for parents dealing with maternity mental health issues.
A report published by Healthwatch Telford and Wrekin says implementing a new perinatal mental health team within the community would be more beneficial to mothers and their partners who find it difficult talking in a clinical environment.
It says there is stigma around the issue, and mothers and partners felt they could not discuss their mental health or emotional wellbeing due to fear of being judged or that their child may be taken away.
The study also found there is a lack of support groups and appropriate information, advice and guidance was needed for mothers and partners, especially around medication and mental health.
The report said: "Our research demonstrates that mental health issues are still considered as a sensitive subject, many parents fear to be honest and discuss this at the fear of being judged.
"There needs to be more support for partners, ensuring they are being looked after during the perinatal stage.
"Parents need to receive more information during pregnancy, having a clear pathway so they know where to go and who to talk to."
The group has also recommended that awareness needs to be raised about support groups and an online resource or app would help mothers reach out to others who are experiencing the same challenges.
Healthwatch Telford and Wrekin also recommended quicker appointments and referrals and shorter waiting times to access clinicians for support.
All information gathered was anonymous and reported back to the LMS, which has shared it with the new perinatal mental health team.
As part of the ‘five-year forward view for mental health’ perinatal mental health is one of the priorities to improve services and quality of care by 2020/21.
More information about Healthwatch Telford & Wrekin is available at healthwatchtelfordandwrekin.co.uk