Maternal mental health in London
As part of its commitment to improving Maternity and Neonatal Services, the NHS Long Term Plan outlined the introduction of the Maternity Outreach Clinics (subsequently renamed Maternal Mental Health Services) to: “integrate maternity, reproductive health and psychological therapy for women experiencing mental health difficulties directly arising from, or related to, the maternity experience”. The target is to have MMHS in every area of the country by 2023/24.
Who can access maternal mental health services?
The MMHS is intended to treat moderate to severe mental health difficulties presenting in four main pathways:
Maternal Mental Health Sites within London – there are four sites accepting referrals in London including The Maple Team based in North Central London, Maternity Trauma and Loss Care Service (M-TLC) in North West London, The Ocean service and the Tulip Service in North East London.
Please note that the sites in South East London and South West London are preparing to open services in 2023.
How to make a referral
Referrals can be made by any health or social care professional and self-referrals are being accepted by some sites. Not all pilot sites are offering all four pathways.
Partners are also able to be referred to an MMHS for assessment only, after which they will be signposted appropriately to other support services within their areas.
Each pilot site has its own referral form and criteria. Please see links and contact email addresses for each service.
Support across London
Maternity Trauma and Loss Care Service (M-LTC) for women and birthing people who live in North West London. Please view the following links for more information:
- For women and birthing people who live in Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea or Westminster please visit Maternity Trauma and Loss Care Service (North West London) : Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (cnwl.nhs.uk)
- For women and birthing people who live in Ealing, Hounslow or Hammersmith and Fulham please visit: https://www.westlondon.nhs.uk/our-services/adult/mental-health-services/maternity-trauma-and-loss-care
The Tulip service for women and birthing people who live in the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, and Havering.
- To make a referral, contact: email@example.com
The Ocean service for women and birthing people who live in the boroughs of City, Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Hackney.
- To make a referral, contact:firstname.lastname@example.org
The Helix service is for women and birthing people who live in the boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich who are experiencing emotional distress, or mental health difficulties following a perinatal loss.
To make a referral to Lambeth or Southwark please access referral and leaflets here: Service Detail – South London and Maudsley (slam.nhs.uk) or contact the team directly here: Helixreferrals@slam.nhs.uk
*The service will be opening in Lewisham and Croydon boroughs in 2023, please watch the SLAM Helix website for updates.
Regional Evaluation of The London Pilot of Maternal Mental Health Services
In 2016, the independent Mental Health Taskforce published its Five Year Forward View (FYFV) on behalf of NHS England, which stipulated that women required access to specialist perinatal mental health services at the local level. NHS England recognised there was a gap in service provision for those requiring psychological intervention specifically related to their birthing experience.
In 2019, NHS England published its Long Term Plan, which set out the need to provide appropriate care to women and birthing parents who develop moderate to severe mental health difficulties due to certain maternity experiences (birth trauma, tokophobia, loss, and child removal due to safeguarding concerns) through the development of Maternal Mental Health Services (MMHS) as this had not previously been provided within existing services.
In 2020 MMHS came into being, to address the gap in provision between specialist services designed to address severe and complex maternity-related psychological difficulties on the one hand, and generalist services designed to address common mental health problems on the other.
This regional evaluation was undertaken by the McPin Foundation and was commissioned and supported by the London Regional Perinatal Mental Health Programme. Mcpin is a research charity specialising in mental health research using peer research methodology. The evaluation focuses on the personal experiences of staff working in the London pilot MMHSs and the women and birthing parents using these services. It draws on in-depth, semi-structured interview data – collected between February and May 2021 – in order to answer key questions around the needs of staff and women/birthing parents, the extent to which those needs are being met, and the lessons that can be learned from their experiences.
Read the full MMHS Evaluation Report here.