A SPECIALIST service to support the mental health of pregnant women and new mums has been launched by NHS Fife.

With figures showing one in every 20 pregnant women across the country require support, the new perinatal mental health team is a Fife-wide specialist service providing assessment and holistic treatment for women who are at risk of developing significant mental disorder in pregnancy or the post-natal period.

The new team, which is based at Whyteman’s Brae Hospital, includes specialist nurses, a consultant psychiatrist and a consultant psychologist.

It will have close links with maternity colleagues, Vulnerable in Pregnancy (VIP) midwives, health visitors, family nurses, social work, and community mental health teams.

The 2017-2027 Mental Health Strategy highlighted a gap in specialist post-natal mental health support in Scotland. The new perinatal mental health team has been formed as part of a response to that report and is funded from a share of a £50 million national investment by the Scottish Government.

Team leader Lynne Mosley said the service would help ensure that women are given more effective, holistic support that will increase their chances of getting the best possible outcome.

“Each year, there are around 3,500 babies born in Fife and whilst pregnancy can be an exciting time, it can also be a daunting prospect for many women who may have additional concerns beyond the immediate physical and mental demands of caring for a new-born," she said.

"Things like financial worries, insecurity of housing and feelings of isolation can have a serious impact on mental health and research shows that women with children are at the greatest risk of suicide in the year that follows the birth of their child.

“Our new perinatal mental health service provides a bespoke mental health pathway for women and offers a person-centred package of care over a purely medical model.

“We have spent the last few months recruiting to the team and now everything is in place to scale up the support we provide.

"We have already started to receive referrals from colleagues across maternity services, primary care and the local Family Nurse Partnership and we look forward to extending this invaluable support to more women across Fife.”