Ongoing efforts by maternal mental health specialists and the Women’s Health Service are seeing more expectant mothers receiving the support they need.
At Wellington Regional Hospital’s Maternal Wellbeing Clinic, pregnant women can talk to maternal mental health specialists about their mental health. It was established following the success of the assessment clinic created by community mental health nurse Cindy Crowley at Hutt Hospital.
“The clinic is for pregnant women who’ve experienced a change in mood that they – or their obstetrician or midwife – are concerned about,” said Cindy.
“Women are referred by their midwife or obstetrician for a brief assessment and – if needed – can be referred to the Specialist Maternal Mental Health Service for further support. This is the case for only around 20-25 percent of the women the clinic sees.”
Women who do not require the level of support provided by the Specialist Maternal Mental Health Service can also be referred to an NGO or other agency that best suits their needs.
“The clinic bridges the gap in supports for women who don’t have level of need – moderate to severe – that requires Specialist Maternal Mental Health Services,” said Mental Health social worker Joanne McNamara.
“We can link those women with community agencies for support that better meets their needs, getting involved before issues become severe.
Feedback shows the clinic to be a success – with midwives and obstetricians referring women, and often phoning the clinic themselves to discuss matter of concern.
“The clinic is making a significant difference in the lives of the women referred. Our specialists provide a non-judgemental ear and can help with skill, caring and support.”