A NEW Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service has been launched at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) to support women experiencing mental health problems during and after pregnancy.
The new Perinatal Mental Health Service team consists of Consultant Obstetrician Dr Mendinaro Imcha, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Mas Mahady Mohamad, Medical Social Worker Eimear Smalle and Mental Health Clinical Midwife Manager Maria Gibbons.
Recruitment of other multidisciplinary team members including Clinical Nurse Specialists, a Clinical Psychologist and administrative staff will be guided by the recently launched Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service (SPMHS) Model of Care.
Dr Mas Mahady Mohamad told the Limerick Post that the main focus was to provide high-quality care for women with moderate to severe mental health difficulties throughout pregnancy and up to the end of the first postnatal year.
“Beyond that, we hope to fulfil a preventive and early intervention role by improving the identification of women with milder forms of illness. The new service will also play a key role in the training of all layers of healthcare professionals within the region and in the promotion of research within this very specialised area of medicine.”
“Women who suffer from perinatal mental illness often do so in isolation, fearful of being stigmatised. In the two months that we’ve been in service, we’ve heard many personal stories of women who felt that they were not able to access help or support for their mental health needs.
“More than anything else, these stories motivate me to further develop services for women and families in the MidWest. My hope is that if these perinatal mental illnesses are identified and treated early, we can potentially avoid many of their short and long-term consequences to mothers, children and families.”
Dr. Mendinaro Imcha referred to the MBRRACE-UK report which concluded that mental health problems are related to around one in four maternal deaths between six weeks and a year after childbirth.
“According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, one in five women develop mental health problems during pregnancy or in the first year after delivery. By providing the right perinatal mental health care to those in need, we will be reinforcing the joy of pregnancy and ensuring a brighter future for our society,” she added.
UL Hospitals Group chief executive Colette Cowan said that the new service symbolised the strong collaboration between UL Hospitals Group and Midwest Community Healthcare to improve access for patients, as set out in the recently launched five-year strategy.
HSE Midwest Community Healthcare chief executive Bernard Gloster said the integration of maternal and mental health would provide a service which would be of great benefit to women in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary.
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by Tom McCullough