A new specialist mental health service aimed at women who are pregnant or have recently given birth, has been launched by the HSE.
The Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Model of Care will focus on women with moderate to severe mental illnesses in the antenatal and postnatal periods.
Such illnesses can include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis, which is a severe mental illness that typically affects women in the weeks after giving birth. It can cause symptoms such as delusions, paranoia and hallucinations and an estimated 134 women are affected in Ireland each year.
"Perinatal mental health disorders are those which complicate pregnancy (antenatal) and the first postnatal year. They include both new onset and a relapse or reoccurrence of pre-existing disorders.
"Their unique aspect is their potential to affect the relationship between mother, child and the family unit, with consequent later development of significant emotional and behavioural difficulties in the child. This Model of Care considers the specialist component of an overall perinatal mental health service," explained Dr Margo Wrigley who chaired the national working group tasked with developing this model.
As part of the model of care, six specialist hubs are to be created. In each of the HSE's hospital groups, the maternity service with the highest number of deliveries will be the designated hub. These are:
-The Rotunda Hospital (RCSI hospital group)
-The National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street (Ireland East)
-The Coombe (Dublin Midlands)
-University Maternity Hospital Limerick (University of Limerick)
-Cork University Maternity Hospital (South/Southwest)
-Galway University Hospital (Saolta)
The model of care states that each hub within a hospital group should have a specialist perinatal mental health service. A multidisciplinary team should be led by a consultant psychiatrist in perinatal psychiatry.
In the remaining 13 maternity units around the country, the liaison psychiatry team will continue to provide input to the maternity service. This team will be linked to the hub specialist perinatal mental health teams for advice, regular meetings, training and education.
According to the HSE's National Director for Mental Health Services, Anne O'Connor, this new model of care provides for ‘an integrated, comprehensive, specialist mental health service for women in Ireland with moderate to severe mental health problems regardless of where they are based'.
"This is truly an integrated, evidence-based model of care and it acknowledges how significant mental health issues can be, but equally, how manageable they can be too," Dr Wrigley added.
It is hoped that this model of care is implemented in the six identified hubs during 2018.
For more information on the model, click here
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