Clare Thompson, Participation Officer, Maternal Mental Health Scotland
It’s a strange time in the world right now, and it may be even stranger if you are pregnant, or you’ve just had a baby. You may be worried about giving birth, breastfeeding, and the health of your wee new-born. You may be wondering what to do if you feel like your mental health might be suffering. I hope this blog will help you connect to organisations, professionals, and other mums who may be experiencing similar struggles. 7 years ago, I was in that position. I was able to access treatment from the Mother and Baby unit in Glasgow, and consider myself to have been “in recovery” ever since. I remember the isolation and the fear of being responsible for a little life and I hope I can offer some signposts to things that can help. If you know of any other links I should include in this list, please do email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Maternal Mental Health Scotland Change Agents on Facebook for more information.
Many third sector and voluntary organisation have responded very quickly to the current physical distancing restrictions, and NHS are helping folk online too, via NHS Near Me.
Maternal Mental Health Alliance have a brilliant list of responses from their members, who continue to call for all women throughout the UK who experience a perinatal mental illness to receive the care they and their families need, wherever and whenever they need it.
If you would like to access antenatal classes online, these are available to everyone in Scotland.
If you find out you are pregnant during the lock down, it’s so important to contact your midwife or G.P. in the same way you would under normal circumstances. If you need additional mental health help, you should be referred to a specialist perinatal mental health team, or mental health team. The NHS is still there for you, and you shouldn’t worry about being a bother. Your baba needs you to be as well as you can be, and loads of people can help you to get there.
On that note, check out this video from the First Minister and Dr John Mitchell, a senior advisor to the Scottish Government. He says that if you need to seek help for your mental health, you should go through the same channels as before, i.e. G.P., midwife or health visitor. If you currently receive specialist mental health support, this should not change. Support may be delivered in different ways, but it shouldn’t be withdrawn. Dr Mitchell’s message begins at about 15 minutes, and goes on for around 3 minutes.
The ‘Every Mind Matters quiz allows people to put together their own personalised plan for looking after their mental health.
If you have suicidal thoughts, the Samaritans telephone line (116 123) is open 24 hours.
Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87) lines are open Monday-Thursday 6pm to 2am and Friday 6pm-Monday 6am.
NHS living life is a free phone service for those aged 16+ experiencing anxiety, low mood and mild to moderate depression. Guided self-help and cognitive behavioural therapy. (0800 328 9655)
A helpline has been set up by The Scottish Government to provide essential assistance to those who do not have a network of support, but who are at high risk if they contract coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes women who are pregnant. The helpline – 0800 111 4000 – will operate during core working hours of Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, while plans are developed to extend it to operate for a longer period each day.
Mental Health Support from the NHS
Here are some examples of NHS services that are adapting to the changing circumstances, to continue to care for expectant and new parents. If you don’t see one for your area here, you can contact the Government helpline, which will direct you to the one for you.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Perinatal Service have an excellent information page.
NHS Grampian have a Resilience Hub. They are there to help you or a member of your family experiencing distress. The specialist perinatal mental health midwife service is ongoing.
NHS Lanarkshire’s Public Distress Covid Helpline is run by Psychological Services staff and aims to offer advice and guidance to anyone in Lanarkshire who is experiencing distress and anxiety during the Covid-19 outbreak. Call 01698 687 567.
NHS Lothian have a Mental Health Information Station.
Perinatal Mental Health Support from Third Sector Organisations in Scotland
Inspiring Scotland have created an online directory of organisations offering support virtually at this time and beyond. Here are some highlights from the list of fantastic folk, in lovely alphabetical order. I’m a librarian, I can’t help it!
Please note, there are many many more on the database. If you know of any organisations who aren’t included, please encourage them to complete this form.
3d Drumchapel have a Facebook page with different groups and helpful information. They have some live online sessions too – Baby Beats on a Tuesday, for music and singing, and Baby&Me on Wednesdays, with lots of information about parenting and baby development. There’s a fortnightly Mum’s night, bedtime stories, and a family disco night! They are still accepting new referrals – you can call 0141 944 5740 for more information.
Our fantastic and dedicated team of staff and volunteers at 3D Drumchapel are pulling out all stops to ensure a quality service and meaningful support during this difficult time, and all in spite of their own fears and anxieties. We couldn’t have done it however without the wider network of third sector organisations in the area, who have excelled themselves. Working together to help the community is what it is all about.Elaine at 3d Drumchapel
Aberlour are continuing their amazing befriending service within Forth Valley, and their East Lothian service does have capacity for new referrals at present. They look forward to engaging with women and families who live in Tranent, Prestonpans, Haddington, Dunbar and North Berwick where the service is currently provided. They also offer an urgent assistance fund. Emma from Aberlour gave me an insight into how their service is making an impact.
“One of the women supported by our service this week described the support from both her befriender and Perinatal Coordinator as ‘a lifeline’. Another mother who was provided with a breast pump to enable expressing whilst she was unwell so her partner could help with feeding and essential groceries sent a message saying ‘ I cannot thank you enough, this means so much to our little family’”.Emma from Aberlour
Action on Postpartum Psychosis offers support to those suffering Postpartum Psychosis and their families.
Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre offers a Helpline chat service on its website.This service is anonymous and confidential and supports Scottish BME women and Muslim women. Women can also contact the Helpline by email: email@example.com or freephone at 0808 801 0301 between Monday and Friday, 10AM to 4PM. You can also join their mailing list for updates through their website, and follow them on Facebook , Instagram & Twitter or even volunteer with them!
“Amina MWRC & the whole third sector are the maternal positivity the world needs right now, does anybody need a virtual hug? Amina is here for YOU.”Farah at Amina
Amma Birth Companions support refugee and asylum seeking mothers in Glasgow, who need someone to be with them during birth.
Bipolar Scotland are running online workshops and chats.
Blank Canvas – Perinatal Creative Peer Support are running a weekly creative challenge.
DadsRock are offering online versions of their sessions for dads AND mums.
Home Start Glasgow North are offering telephone and online support all their current families and are reaching out to those on their waiting list, which is still open.
“This has definitely made me more grateful and I realise just how much support I had around me before all of this and I don’t think I’ll ever take that for granted again”Home Start Glasgow North Mum
Home Start UK also have some very useful information.
Lanarkshire Post Natal Depression Support group is ongoing. This is a private facebook group
Let’s All Talk North East Mums (LATNEM) are meeting online.
Merry-go-Round Glasgow have NCT breastfeeding support, a “Mum’s the Word” group, and are looking at other exciting new projects.
Nurture the Borders have set up a virtual village. They also offer one to one emotional and practical support from their perinatal support officers and volunteer mum befrienders (on zoom and telephone), Live Antenatal Classes via zoom, Live Weekly Cuppa Club (Perinatal Support Group) via zoom, Birth Trauma Therapy via zoom, Live Antenatal Support Group via zoom, Support forum on Facebook (Closed Group) and Antenatal Support Forum hosted on our wix app.
Pandas free helpline is also available 7 days a week from 11am to 10pm. Their facebook page and facebook page for dads are very active. Locally, Glasgow South Pandas and East Lothian Pandas Support group are both running Zoom calls alongsidethe usual email support.
PND Borders is centrally based in Galashiels and their service is available to anyone living in the Scottish Borders.
Fabulous PND and Me have always been there (or it seems that way!), but the weekly twitter chat #pndhour has also moved to facebook.
The Positive Birth Movement are running online sessions.
Quarriers Family Resource Centre continues to offer support.
Maternity Action is the UK’s leading charity committed to ending inequality and improving the health and wellbeing of pregnant women, partners and young children – from conception through to the child’s early years.
The Scottish Government have advice for Infant Feeding Services in Maternity.
The Association for Breastfeeding Mothers have a great list of resources.
Breastfeed Grampian are offering support online.
NCT Glasgow Breastfeeding Buddies have a virtual café each week.
East Lothian Breastfeeding have gone online.
The National Breastfeeding helpline is there 9.30am – 9.30pm.
Refuge have special pages for advice during this time.
Women’s Aid has a live chat service and an online survivor’s forum. You can also find your local domestic abuse service on their website. The Survivor’s Handbook provides information on housing, money, helping your children and your legal rights. They also have special pages for advice during this time.
Mental Health Law
The Mental Welfare Commission have produced guidance on the Mental Health Act
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have posted some lovely videos to help if your baby is in a Neonatal Unit.
Child Bereavement UK is a site with resources for children and young people who are grieving, as well as providing information and advice to families / professionals on how to best support someone who is bereaved. A helpline is also available on 0800 028 840.
Cruse has a helpline and listening support.
Simba support those affected by the loss of a baby. During this time, their Closed Facebook Support Groups will continue to operate as normal. These groups are set up specifically to support those affected by the loss of a baby including a group for Men Only, Grandparents, and those who wish to share their babies’ photos. The groups are available 24 hours a day, giving families’ access as and when they need it. For the first time ever, they are working with their wonderful Support Group Facilitators to run virtual support group sessions via Zoom. These sessions are for anyone affected by the loss of a baby and usually start at 7pm lasting for an hour but please check individual listings as this can vary. These are safe places hosted online by our trained facilitators where you can grab a cuppa and join us for a chat about how you’re feeling at this time. If you’d like to join this kind of support session, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Sands is the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. Join here at https://sands.community.