Summary of report content
Between September 2018 and May 2019, Healthwatch Lambeth conducted in-depth qualitative research study to explore the experience of 18 mothers from Lambeth with mild to moderate mental health problems at perinatal stage. They also sought the views of 12 health and social care professionals on their confidence to support mothers and their knowledge on the relevant services mothers can access.
The report found that timely identification of problems did not happen because the mothers’ condition was being dismissed as hormonal and normal and both them and the professional lacked confidence to discuss mental health conditions; mothers mostly developed mental health problems after the birth of their child as they felt overwhelmed and unsure what to do; mothers found a trusting relationship and access to informal social support play an important role in coping with their conditions; there were very few relevant services known to professionals and mothers due to lack of information and gaps in service.
The report made recommendations to the local NHS Trusts, CCGs, services and voluntary sector organisations to provide training to professionals to identify signs and symptoms of mental health conditions and how to communicate with empathy about sensitive issues; to have a proactive approach to information sharing; to raise public awareness on mental health to help de-stigmatise the issue; for health and social care professionals to proactively engage with the relevant people in the mother’s life as a source of support for them.