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Perinatal Mental Health in Focus

Published: Friday, May 17, 2019

We held our first Women’s Mental Health Network event in May, focusing on perinatal mental health.

Women can experience poor mental health during the perinatal period – during pregnancy and a year post-birth. Research has found that 10-15% women in pregnancy experience mild to moderate depression; women can also experience anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s why access to perinatal mental health services across the country is vital.

At our event, the 80-strong audience received an update about the new perinatal mental health services from Dr Margo Wrigley, HSE National Clinical Lead for Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Services. The developing network is designed to align with maternity services, with perinatal mental health hubs in each of the large maternity hospitals and spokes in each maternity unit. As the service rolls out more and more women will have access to mental health midwives and staff dedicated to support their wellbeing. There is still work to be done - vitally, Ireland doesn’t have a mother and baby unit for women who need to be admitted for inpatient mental health care.

Turning to women’s experiences, Eileen Ní Shuilleabháin, Principal Social Worker in Adult Mental Health Services in Galway City described the benefits of a trauma-informed approach to care. During the perinatal period women can have a range of experiences, including birth trauma, feelings of loss of control during labour and concern about their children, all of which may impact their long-term wellbeing. Recognising women’s resilience, Eileen emphasised the value of the support women give to one another. This is why it is imperative to bring women’s mental health issues out into the open so that we can understand women’s needs and develop the right supports.

The Women’s Mental Health Network (WMHN), convened by NWCI and St Patrick's Mental Health Services is a network for all those committed to women’s mental health. We will be organising more events in the coming months. Read more about the network and join.
Read NWCI’s report ‘Out of Silence – women’s mental health in their own words’ in which women discuss the impact of pregnancy and motherhood on their wellbeing.