WhatsApp groups – you either love them or hate them! In our Experts by Experience reference group, they seem to work well – quicker than email, and convenient for mums and dads on the go to engage at a time that suits them.
We have been using our group to explore a question that is often discussed by health professionals and parents, namely “What’s the one thing that your midwife health visitor or GP could have done to help you with you antenatal and postnatal mental health?” We shared many experiences, good and bad, and many themes came out of the discussion.
The theme of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is “recovery”, so we thought we would share five things that we think health professionals do that helps people with their perinatal mental health
When the person looking after you has done all the training they can do, it makes us feel secure in the knowledge that they are able to help us.
NHS Education Scotland have produced training modules for anyone working with expectant and new parents:
Judgement and stigma
Using language that builds on strengths rather than emphasises shortcomings can help contribute to recovery.
We hear so many stories about women being told to stop taking anti-depressant medication when they find out they are pregnant. There are medications which are safe to take in pregnancy, and stopping medication is likely to affect mental health at an already vulnerable time. Please help women balance the risks and benefits of medication during pregnancy. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/antidepressants/antidepressants-in-pregnancy/
Emotional and Physical Health
When health professionals take time to find out about how we are emotionally as well as physically, it can help mums and dads feel like their mental health is as important as their physical health. Happy parents = happy baby!
In Scotland, all health boards are in the process of, or have already developed pathways for care of women and families who need extra help with their mental health in pregnancy and postnatally. Please find out what the pathway is for your local board
Thanks to all of the health professionals who help parents during this vulnerable time. We appreciate your dedication to families, and applaud all your good work!
Many thanks to the Experts by Experience Reference Group, who collaborated on this piece.