Summary of report content
From January to March 2019, Healthwatch Shropshire undertook wide-ranging engagement to understand people's experiences of the maternity mental health support available in Shropshire. This work was carried out as requested by Healthwatch England.
Key findings included: staff expressed that many, if not all, of the parents they had encountered in the last six months would have benefited from mental health support; over half of questionnaire respondents said they had been given no information or advice about maternity and mental health, which was widely wanted; new parents experienced a lack of opportunities to raise their mental health concerns; people had variable experiences of talking to their GP about their mental health; most support came from health visitors and midwives; people valued the support they received from health visitors and felt this should be available more frequently and go on for longer; service users and staff highlighted the need for continuity of carer to build trust and allow new parents to discuss their concerns; people experienced variable waiting times and had difficulty self-referring to mental health support; and personalisation of care, including involvement in care planning, was welcomed.
Healthwatch Shropshire made several recommendations, surrounding: increasing support for partners; better information for new parents; more consistent and face-to-face contact with professionals; more support groups to build peer support networks; provision of mental health training for all staff that work with new parents; and the new Perinatal Mental Health Team working closely with primary care professionals to improve the consistency and quality of support provided to new parents that need it. The report features a positive response from the Local Maternity System.