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Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme in perinatal mental health

Having a baby can be joyful, exciting, and rewarding.  However, it is also common for pregnant women/birthing people and new mothers or fathers/partners to experience anxiety, depression, or emotional distress.

As many as one in five women/birthing people experience emotional difficulties during pregnancy and in the first year after their baby’s birth. This can happen to anyone.

Every London borough has an IAPT service which offers free, confidential talking therapy for people who have symptoms of anxiety or depression. IAPT stands for ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapy’. They give priority to pregnant women/birthing people and fathers/partners.  This leaflet explains more about the service and the help we can offer you if you need it. For more information click here to access the “Help and emotional support during pregnancy and the first year after having a baby” leaflet.

Support across London

Below you’ll find a list of services available across London.


Maternal mental health in London

As part of its commitment to improving Maternity and Neonatal Services, the NHS Long Term Plan outlined the introduction of the Maternity Outreach Clinics (subsequently renamed Maternal Mental Health Services) to: “integrate maternity, reproductive health and psychological therapy for women experiencing mental health difficulties directly arising from, or related to, the maternity experience”. The target is to have MMHS in every area of the country by 2023/24.

Who can access maternal mental health services?

The MMHS is intended to treat moderate to severe mental health difficulties presenting in four main pathways:

Four key pathways for maternal mental health - 1. PTSD following birth trauma 2. Perinatal loss 3. Loss due to safeguarding issues 4. Tokophobia

 

Maternal Mental Health Sites within London –  there are four sites accepting referrals in London including The Maple Team based in North Central London, Maternity Trauma and Loss Care Service (M-TLC) in North West London, The Ocean service and the Tulip Service in North East London.

Please note that the sites in South East London and South West London are preparing to open services in the autumn of 2022.

How to make a referral

Referrals can be made by any health or social care professional and self-referrals are being accepted by some sites. Not all pilot sites are offering all four pathways.

Partners are also able to be referred to an MMHS for assessment only, after which they will be signposted appropriately to other support services within their areas.

Each pilot site has its own referral form and criteria. Please see links and contact email addresses for each service.

Support across London

Below you’ll find a list of services available across London.


Community perinatal mental health teams

Community perinatal mental health teams support mothers who are experiencing moderate to severe mental health problems in the perinatal period to recover in the community. They also offer pre-conception advice to women with existing mental health problems who are planning a pregnancy.

They are staffed by a range of professionals and offer family-focused interventions, and work closely with maternity services, health visitors, IAPT, GPs, other community services and third sector organisations.

Support across London

Below you’ll find a list of services available across London.


Perinatal mental health peer support in London

Perinatal peer support is an active intervention where people use their own experiences to work directly with women/birthing people and their families. Perinatal peer supporters or peer support workers have experienced some form of perinatal mental ill-health and recovery which they draw upon to offer a safe space, a listening ear and support to others going through similar experiences. Accessing peer support during the perinatal period has been shown to have a positive impact on women’s overall health and wellbeing.

There are several peer support options in London provided by both the third sector and the NHS. NHS services such as Community Perinatal and Maternal Mental Health Services provide this support to women with moderate to severe mental ill-health. Women and birthing people can access mental health and emotional wellbeing support flexibly through the third sector.

To help support women and professionals to understand and access peer support, HLP and London’s third sector organisation have developed a directory of organisations that offer perinatal peer support across London.

Third sector organisations working with specific groups

Certain organisations from those already listed above provide support to women with special circumstances:

  • Support in multiple languages – Manor gardens (NCL), Parents in Mind (NEL), Newham Nurture Programme (NEL), Maternity mates (NEL), The Ectopic pregnancy trust (Citywide)
  • Support for women from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds – The motherhood group (SEL), Prosperity’s birth companion (SEL)
  • Support for women in prison – Birth companion (Citywide)
  • Support for women living with HIV – 4M Network (Citywide)
  • Young mothers – YoungMumsAid (SEL)
  • Women in high deprivation – Newham Nurture Programme (NEL)

Listening to experiences and voices

To ensure women and birthing people on the maternity pathway are allowed the opportunity to have their voice heard, a team of women and their families, commissioners and providers work together through Maternity Voice Partnerships (MVP) to review and inform the development of local maternity care. To launch your voice and contribute to developing your local maternity care services, click here to find your local MVP and their contact details.

Support across London

Below you’ll find a list of services available across London.