Maternal Mental Health Service Programme

Within the NHS Long Term Plan there’s an ambition for maternal mental health services to be better linked into community hub developments and better connected to Primary Care Network services. The Long Term Plan brings an increase in services to benefit more women and the extension of specialist mental health support for new parents.

To enable this development the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector can play a pivotal role in realising this ambition in the North East and North Cumbria. Ways to Wellness’ ambition is for the VCSE sector, alongside the NHS, to work together to identify and support women and their partners, gathering the data needed to demonstrate improved mental health in the next few years. The Maternal Mental Health Services (MMHS) Project grew out of initial discussions via the VCSE Partnership Programme, which supports the VCSE sector to engage and collaborate with the NENC ICS.

The aim of this innovative programme is to support the development of new maternal mental health services via the VCSE to help better deliver meaningful outcomes and benefits from preconception through to baby’s 2nd birthday.

The delivery of this new initiative was supported by transformational funding from the North East & North Cumbria Integrated Care System (NENC ICS).

Working with the North East and North Cumbria Perinatal Mental Health Clinical Network, this project will help to build capacity and integrate VCSE sector link work provision and peer support into maternal mental health service pathways.

"Thank you for sharing such great information. I didn’t know this kind of stuff existed. There’s some really lovely sessions on at the Recovery College that I’d like to try.” (Family supported by a MMHS Link Worker, 2022)

The Maternal Mental Health project is currently delivering four prototype link work services in the four Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) areas of the NENC ICS, harnessing the innovation and community knowledge of the VCSE sector. The strength of the link work model is the person centred, strength-based approach; for this project this will look like link workers empowering mothers and families to take control of their health and wellbeing, promoting recovery, and focusing on ‘what matters to me’ and giving time to take a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.

A priority will be to engage and enable mothers to participate in group activities and connect to local assets, connecting to peer support or creating new opportunities for peer support and creating action plans, reviewing these in a way that’s most meaningful to mothers accessing support.

Whilst this is a NENC ICS funded programme, each prototype must be developed and embedded at a local ‘place based’ level. Four areas have been identified, these are North Cumbria (Together We CiC), Sunderland (Sunderland Counselling Service), Tees Valley/Middlesbrough (Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind) and Northumberland (Mental Health Concern). Ways to Wellness (and our partners) have an ambition for the VCSE sector, alongside the NHS, to work together to identify and support women and their partners, gathering the data needed to demonstrate improved mental health in the next few years.

Ways to Wellness facilitate a monthly Learning Community for the prototype link workers and the format has been co-designed with the link workers involved in the project. As a learning community they explore gaps, barriers and opportunities for services to connect to new mothers and address their needs. The link workers then decide which key messages will be taken forward to facilitate discussion and sharing across the wider health and social care system. The project is supported by a comprehensive evaluation framework using the Parent and Baby Outcome Star. Outcomes for families are reflected in case studies and qualitative interviews with families who have accessed link work support, and professionals connected to their care.

Project delivery started in Spring 2022 and this initiative will run for 18 months to help inform future commissioning. Please follow our website and social media for more updates on this innovate and exciting project.

For more information contact Ang Broadbridge (Maternal Mental Health Services Project Manager)

The documents below were part of the maternal mental health workshop on 23rd January 2023. The event was led by Ang Broadbridge of Ways to Wellness, together with colleagues from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC) and Rachel McDonald of the Perinatal Mental Health Clinical Network team.

Maternal Mental Health Service Programme

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This service has resolved a lot of the issues that worried me.