The North London Partners Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service (SPMHS) is a community-based mental health team serving the needs of pregnant and postnatal women with moderate to severe mental health needs. The team comprises of perinatal psychiatrists, clinical nurse specialists, a clinical psychologist and administrators.
We assess and treat mental health problems in women who are:
- planning a pregnancy and need advice
- currently pregnant
- have had a baby in the past six months (with follow-up for up to 12 months)
- Women over 18 years old
- Women who are currently in the care of psychiatric services; or with a current or previous severe mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, postpartum psychosis (also known as puerperal psychosis), other psychotic disorders, severe affective disorder, severe anxiety disorders e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, personality disorder
- We are not able to provide services for substance misuse problems in the absence of mental health problems.
- Women experiencing milder forms of perinatal mental health problems should consult their midwives, health visitor and GP for other support available in the NHS such as talking therapy.
Referrals can also be made to a mother and baby unit when needed.
Who is the service for and where do we work?
SPMHS work with pregnant and postnatal women with moderate to severe mental health needs who live in the five London Boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington.
In certain circumstances SPMHS can also offer care to women who have GP’s in the five London Boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington when they live on the borders.
SPMHS offer outpatient clinic slots for women accessing obstetric care at the following five maternity centres:
- North Middlesex University Hospital (NMUH)
- Royal Free Hospital (RFH)
- Barnet Hospital
- University College London Hospital (UCLH)
- Whittington Hospital
SPMHS also see women in the community and in particular circumstances at home.
What to expect
Our goal is to see new referrals within six weeks of receiving the referral. If the referral is deemed urgent we aim to see the woman within two weeks.
Women will generally be seen in outpatient clinics in the hospital or community. The team offers psycho-education and advice, assessment and information about other services.
Assessment, advice and treatment may be in collaboration with the woman’s usual psychiatric team where she has one, and alongside the midwifery and obstetric teams.
The service will agree a personalised care plan that embraces what is important to the woman during her pregnancy. We aim to promote wellbeing in the woman and her family and prevent relapse in pregnancy and the early postpartum period.
Comprehensive medication advice is available for those with mental illness on psychiatric medications who are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or breast feeding.
We will support mothers in developing a healthy relationship with their infants, thus reducing the impact of maternal mental illness on child development. We also encourage the involvement of fathers or partners in the process.
- To improve the health and wellbeing of women who have, or are at risk of mental health problems and improve outcomes for women, their infants, partners and their families. We follow the NICE guidelines on Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health.
- To detect, prevent and treat perinatal mental illness and allow women time to consider the treatment and support options available in order to receive safe and effective care.
- We will work collaboratively with families/carers, and various other statutory and voluntary services i.e. maternity services, obstetricians, health visitors, other secondary mental health services and GP’s to ensure good partnership working to support women’s physical and mental health needs.
- We are active with teaching and training other health professionals so that they can have a good working knowledge of how mental health problems affect women in pregnancy and after birth.
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