"Lack of support for perinatal mental health"

About: Devon Partnership NHS Trust / Perinatal psychiatry

(as the patient),

I got no support during my first pregnancy, despite having a recent history of mental health problems and being on prescribed medication (which I stopped myself because I didn't know if it would harm the baby). This was probably largely due to the fact that I saw 5 different midwives for my routine appointments during the course of my pregnancy. I suffered badly during and after my pregnancy, and was finally referred, but not to the perinatal team as it was almost a year after he was born, and given more medication.

I'm now pregnant for the second time and have a really nice midwife who has tried to access help for me, but the perinatal mental health team wouldn't even speak to me, they just wrote to me and said I'd had PND before and got over it, so they were cancelling the referral. I stopped my medication again this time when we decided to try for another because no one can tell me if it is ok for the baby, but they've just assumed that if I've stopped taking it I must be ok now.

My midwife has said that I can ring them and force them to see me, or she can intervene, but does no one understand how difficult it is to ask for this help and how if the door is slammed in your face you cannot face going back and knocking on it again. I know enough now to realise that the real danger with mental health is that you don't see it coming and even if you do you think you are being weak or stupid or wasting people's time -that's part of the illness. If I was well enough to be demanding to be seen I probably wouldn't need to be.....

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Response from Peter Brain, Volunteer, Healthwatch Devon

Dear 'spitfire',

This comment and the response has been passed to us at Healthwatch.

Thanks for this submission.

Your have pin-pointed a crucial dilemma in your final sentence.

Please do not think you are ever being "weak or stupid".

And you have raised an important question of the impact of medication on an unborn baby.

I am sure the Trust will be responding to you and hope you will feel able to comment again.


More generally, we are building a picture of the provision of services in Devon and these comments will help the NHS develop and improve its services.

If you wish to discuss any health or social care issues with us in confidence, including receiving advice or information about services please call 0800 520 0640, or email info@healthwatchdevon.co.uk or go on-line to www.healthwatchdevon.co.uk.


Yours sincerely

Peter Brain


Healthwatch Devon is the consumer champion for Health and Social Care in Devon.

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Response from Communications Manager, Devon Partnership NHS Trust

We are extremely sorry to hear that you have been having problems in accessing our perinatal mental health service and we would like to discuss these issues with you. Please would you contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on freephone 0800 073 0741 or by email dpn-tr.PALS@nhs.net so that we can find a solution. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Response from Sharon Berkhout, Communications Manager, Devon Partnership NHS Trust

Dear 'Spitfire'

Our perinatal team would welcome the opportunity to see you or talk to you on the phone. Please can you ask your midwife to contact the local perinatal team to arrange. Click the link for the details:



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