NHS Greater Glasgow has introduced an innovative new community mental health team to help women suffering from post-natal mental health problems.
The Mother and Baby Community Mental Health Team is the first dedicated team of its kind in Scotland and is the only specialist team in the UK where staff work across both inpatient and community based services.
NHS Greater Glasgow Nurse Consultant, Karen Robertson and Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Roch Cantwell were instrumental in the design, implementation and delivery of the new community service. They looked at other services around the UK and abroad, including Australia, before developing the new Glasgow service.
Staffed by a multi-disciplinary team that includes specially trained community psychiatric nurses, a health visitor and a social worker, the community team is able to assess patients and provide a wide range of treatments. These include medication and other therapies designed to help overcome problems such as depression and anxiety.
A full-time community nursery nurse has also been appointed to work with the Team to offer extra support with baby care and to help mothers bond with their babies.
The Team works closely with maternity hospitals and community mental health teams across the city and currently receives around 40 referrals a month from GPs, health visitors and maternity staff. It also acts as a source of specialist support and advice to health other professionals across the west of Scotland.
Karen Robertson said: "The community team will help reduce the need for hospital admission by enabling women to receive treatment for their mental illness whilst recovering at home. It will also provide follow up care and support to the small number of women who do require to be admitted to hospital after they are discharged."
Uniquely in the UK, staff within the community team work across inpatient and community services and are therefore able to offer continuity of care to women admitted to Glasgow's new Mother and Baby Mental Health Unit. This £1.3million six-bedded Unit on the Southern General Hospital site enables mothers to stay with their babies whilst undergoing treatment for mental illness.
Karen Robertson said:"We decided that to meet the needs of women and infants in Glasgow, we couldn't have an inpatient unit without a community team or vice versa.There needs to be a continuity of care so that mothers are fully supported when they leave the unit to go back home.
"To help us maintain that continuity, nurses who work primarily in the inpatient unit also work as part of the community team one day a week. This gives staff a greater breadth of experience in terms of patients they see and the problems patients have."
Around 10 to 15% of women may suffer from depression during pregnancy or after childbirth.Most women recover with the help of a midwife, health visitor and GP.
A proportion will experience more serious depression and around 1 in 500 women will suffer from puerperal psychosis, a severe illness usually requiring admission to hospital.
Postnatal Depression is a different condition to the ‘baby blues' that can occur in the first week after the baby is born.Mothers may find themselves exhausted and tearful, but this usually passes within a few days with rest and support from family and friends.
PND is a more prolonged illness and can be caused by a number of factors.These include psychological and social factors such as the demands, obligations and responsibilities of being a mother.
A new mother may fear that she is inadequate and not able to live up to her own and/or other people's expectations; family factors are also important, including the relationship a mother has with the child's father; and the support she receives from other people.
Biological factors, such as hormonal changes following childbirth, may also play a role in more severe postnatal illnesses.
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