6th World Nursing and Healthcare Conference
Northern Health and Social Care trust and Queen’s University Belfast, UK
Title: Developing a regional perinatal mental health pathway
Biography: Shona Hamilton
This Regional Pathway has been implemented throughout Northern Ireland in five Health and Social care Trusts. It was developed by a multi-professional group with the support and direction of the Public Health Agency (NI). It is intended that the care pathway will facilitate a consistent regional approach for all pregnant and postnatal women in Northern Ireland. Mental ill health, complicating pregnancy and the postpartum year, is relatively common. In some cases this illness may be of a serious nature and may have long lasting effects, not only on maternal health, but also on child development and family relationships. Women with pre-existing mental health illness may have a relapse or recurrence of their illness following childbirth. Women who previously have been symptom free may have an elevated risk of suffering from a mood disorder particularly the more serious mood disorders in the postnatal period. Puerperal psychosis in the UK has an overall incidence of 2:1,000 births (Jones, 2010). The group recognized that the antenatal period offers professionals a unique opportunity to screen for risk factors associated with maternal mental ill health and thereby ensuring appropriate early interventions are provided, including referral to the best available services. Identifying and treating mental ill health is not only beneficial for the woman but also for the future health and wellbeing of her child and the family unit as a whole. A regional training strategy provided the support and education during the implementation phase and the pathway is now an integral part of midwifery practice.