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‘Community teams’ helping mums struggling with mental health | UK News

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Thousands of mothers in Britain struggle with mental health problems during pregnancy, but until recently 40% of the country had no access to specialist services.

Now 400 more frontline staff are providing women with care at home, bridging a historic north/south divide in treatment.

The new “community teams” are part of a £365m investment to transform mental health provision for mothers in England.

Mother-of-two Kate West was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after a traumatic first birth. Today she’s being helped by her local mental health team in East Yorkshire.

She said: “The anxiety is so bad. I just wanted to get out of this situation. I think I was trying to escape my mind. I felt really suicidal.

“It wasn’t until I got home five days after she was born that I started having anxiety, panic attacks, and it just got progressively worse. I didn’t understand why I was feeling like this and for someone to just sit down in front of me and say ‘you’re going to get better’ was just invaluable really.”

Suicide is a leading cause of maternal death and traditionally many in the north of England have been cut off from help.

For the severest cases, beds at mother and baby units are still saturated in London and the South East, but NHS England says it plans to make more beds available in the north.

Children’s charity the NSPCC fears that while provision in England has improved, mothers in Wales and Northern Ireland aren’t receiving the help they need.

Its senior policy officer Alana Ryan said: “There are significant disparities between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

“In England we’ve actually seen significant progress on specialist community care for women with mental health problems over the perinatal period but there’s much more room for improvement in Northern Ireland and Wales.

“In Northern Ireland there is still no mother and baby units for women who have significant and severe mental health problems.”

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

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