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Cornwall launches mental health service for pregnant women and new mothers

By WBEsme  |  Posted: August 20, 2013

The opening of Cornwall's new perinatal mental health service

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Cornwall's first mental health service aimed at helping women before, during and after pregnancy was launched in Truro yesterday thanks to support from a local charity.

With the help of the Angela Harrison Charitable Trust, the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust launched the county's first perinatal mental health team to help women of all ages across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The new service supports women who have had previous experience or newly developed moderate to severe mental health needs both during and after pregnancy.

The perinatal mental health team aims to speed up the diagnosis of mental instability so women can be given the support and help needed as soon as possible.

Instrumental to the development of the scheme was the Angela Harrison Charitable Trust

The charity was founded by Anthony Harrison in 2005 after his wife, Angela, tragically took her own life whilst suffering from severe postnatal depression.

Mr Harrison said: "It is so crucial to have this service. The most important thing that any of us do is to have children, and people in Cornwall should have the help which most of the people in the country get.

"If this service was available I would imagine it would have made a huge difference to us. Angela would have had the instant help because the health visitor would have been educated. As everyone knows, early diagnosis is the key."

Research has shown that ten per cent of mothers who have recently given birth suffer from some form of postnatal depression.

Mandy Raywood, a perinatal specialist nurse at the Cornwall Foundation Partnership NHS Trust said: "Some women may already have an illness, such as depression when they get pregnant, others worry about problems they've had in the past, and some women experience mental health problems for the first time during or after pregnancy.

"There is a stigma about mental health issues particularly during the perinatal period. We work in partnership with other agencies to ensure the best outcome for mum and baby and promote emotional wellbeing and attachment."

The perinatal mental health team is based in Pydar street, Truro, yet midwives also meet with women at GP practices, community venues and their homes.

There is range of services available to women through the scheme including talking therapies, support groups and advice on medication.

Self-referrals can be made by emailing SPoA@cornwall.nhs.uk . Alternatively women can seek a referral to the service from their GP, midwife or other healthcare professional.

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