PHA launches the Integrated Perinatal Mental Health Care Pathway

PHA launches the Integrated Perinatal Mental Health Care Pathway

A care pathway for Perinatal Mental Health was launched this week by the Public Health Agency (PHA) which will provide local guidelines for health care professionals on effective ways of accessing the appropriate advice, information and treatment for pregnant women presenting with signs of mental ill health.

Siobhan McIntyre, Regional Nurse Consultant, PHA and Chair of the Regional Perinatal Mental Health Implementation Group said: “Immediately before or after the birth of a baby, it is not uncommon for the mother to suffer from low mood or depression. It is characterised by a persistent low mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, poor concentration, sleep disturbance, poor appetite, weight loss, or feelings of worthlessness. This may last only a few days, but occasionally it will continue for longer and may require professional help, and in some cases ideas of self harm and suicide may occur.”

Following recommendations by the NICE Guidelines on Perinatal Mental Health (2007), a Regional Perinatal Mental Health Group was established under the Bamford Task Group (Adult Group) and led by the PHA.

The aim of the group was to discuss with key stakeholders in the five Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCTs), the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and the PHA on how to provide an effective multidisciplinary service for the prediction, detection and treatment of maternal mental illness through the antenatal and postnatal periods for all women in Northern Ireland. The group was tasked with providing a comprehensive resource on all aspects of perinatal mental health for service users and professionals.

As a result the group has produced a regional care pathway for guidance for all HSC professionals who come into contact with pregnant women. This is complimented by a local adaption of the pathway for each Trust, to reflect local service models and contact details.

Siobhan continued: “As Chair of the group I am extremely grateful to all the individuals involved in the development of this Care Pathway, and to those who offered advice and guidance along the way, in particular local women whose in-put has been invaluable.

“A number of different professional groups from the HSC system in Northern Ireland will be involved with the implementation of this pathway. It will help establish and improve local guidelines for GPs, midwives and health visitors to improve communication between the appropriate professionals and to establish effective ways of accessing advice, information and treatment for women presenting with early signs of mental illness.

“Furthermore the integrated care pathway specifies the roles and responsibilities of key staff and is intended to support staff in these roles to provide adequate and sustainable care for mums and their families.”

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, PHA said: “I am pleased to launch the Regional Integrated Care Pathway. Its use in the detection and treatment of Perinatal Mental Health today will result in better outcomes for women, their children and families in Northern Ireland.”

Further information

Contact PHA Communications on (028) 9055 3663.