Dr Jonathan Evans and Inge Shepherd, Directors of the Improving Perinatal Mental Health Health Integration Team (IMPROVE HIT), give an update on progress in 2017-18.
The specialist perinatal mental health service, which the IMPRovE HIT supported to obtain funding, has now been running for over a year. The University of Bristol’s evaluation of the service began last summer and will continue until spring 2019. We will be looking at mechanisms to embed this evaluation function into the specialist team, to allow them to continuously evaluate progress and effectiveness. A bid for the second wave of funding is also underway.
We have begun to look at the pathways in place for women experiencing less severe common mental health issues, with a focus on depression and anxiety. Colleagues at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group are working with us on this and we hope to have identified our areas to target in the coming months. We are also contributing the recommissioning process for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services.
Our work to increase women’s engagement with Children’s Centres has been successful, with a system up and running to register all women during their pregnancy. We are looking to assess the impact of this on perinatal mental health. We have produced DVDs to publicise the importance of the Children’s Centres, which have had positive feedback. Dr Rebecca Pearson, who leads the universal prevention work stream, held a public engagement event in February to publicise the work that’s going on in perinatal mental health.
We have had a productive year in terms of obtaining research funding for HIT-related projects. Rebecca is leading a project on mental health intergeneration transmission, which has been awarded funding from the European Research Council of €1.3 million and Dr Jonathan Evans has been awarded funding of £250k from the NIHR to compare psychological treatments for prenatal depression.
Our teaching and training workstream has continued to offer specialist training and advice in perinatal mental health and we recently supported a new course, development of the strategy and support for health visitor training. We have continued our work with local charities Bluebell, Mothers for Mothers and Rockabye and we continue to seek other collaborations with the voluntary sector, with a focus on engaging with fathers.