Perinatal Health Outcomes
Improving the mental health of vulnerable parents and pregnant women with the wider effect of improving health outcomes of infants throughout the perinatal stages.
The perinatal period presents a window of opportunity for promoting and improving the mental health and wellbeing of both parents and infants.
The moral, social and economic case for doing this work is well documented (Hogg, 2019).
The foundations for future development are established during this time, when babies' experiences are shaped by their interactions with their caregivers. Yet, this period can be challenging for parents for a variety of reasons.
Some of our families described previous experiences of services which shaped their expectations including, finding Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) unpleasant, not having distress taken seriously until crisis and feeling like services had no flexibility, were. One view emphasised how racism experienced from staff in the NHS builds fear of and distrust in healthcare services:
“I told you, said from now on I rather stay in at home when I’m sick then than go into the A&E because, what's the difference? They will not treat me as they should so I’d rather stay at home and die. Do you know how many families are too scared to go to the NHS?”
Accessible, inclusive and flexible parent-infant work can provide the bedrock that offers families a strong foundation for life. Prevention and early intervention work needs to be accessible for all and delivered in a timely manner. No long waiting lists, no limiting service criteria and free from stigma.
OUR WORK AND INTERVENTIONS
We have developed a model of care, embedded and delivered in general practice by our experienced Clinical Psychologist.
The service offers:
- Training and consultation for professionals linked to the practice/network
- Universal antenatal sessions for pregnant women and families promoting social and emotional wellbeing
- Targeted clinical interventions for those needing more tailored support (conception to first year).
- Parent-infant relationship work
- Parental mental health work
- Wider family interventions
The service is committed to being accessible to all and working alongside other agencies to tackle health inequalities. A community-informed capacity-building model is used, recognizing the strengths and skills in the workforce and within families.
A replicable service that has had a significant effect in our area
We have seen significant positive outcomes including: reduction in active safeguarding concerns, reduction in detention under the Mental Health Act, improved parental mental health and improved relationship between parent and child. A full initial report can be found below.
Our service is replicable in practices or in PCNs. If you are interested in learning more or replicating this service, please get in touch.
“Yeah so that non-officious approach has helped massively. I think if you'd have turned up with a guidebook and a uniform on it would be a very different story.”
“This session was useful to get us thinking about the social aspects of babies and how this impacts on their emotional and future development.”
To learn more about out work and our findings on this project, click the button below download our Evaluation report.