Pregnancy support group is NHS first for Cornwall

Great news for women in the South West: Cornwall gets its first perinatal mental health service – read this piece by Esmé Ashcroft in local paper The West Briton.

Anthony Harrison, The Angela Harrison Charitable Trust

Anthony Harrison, founder of The Angela Harrison Charitable Trust, at the launch of the new perinatal mental health service at Truro Health Park

Pregnancy support group is NHS first for Cornwall

CORNWALL’S first mental health service aimed at helping women before, during and after pregnancy was launched on Monday 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 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, during and after pregnancy.

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

The Angela Harrison Charitable Trust was founded by Anthony Harrison in 2005 after his wife, who worked at Perranporth Surgery, took her own life while suffering severe postnatal depression.

At the launch at Truro Health Park, 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 10 per cent of new mothers suffer from some form of postnatal depression.

Mandy Raywood, a perinatal specialist nurse at the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation 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, with midwives able to meet women at GP practices, community venues and their homes.

Self-referrals can be made by e-mailing SPoA@cornwall.nhs.uk or referrals can be made through GPs, midwives or healthcare professionals.

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