Frequently Asked Questions
What is perinatal mental health (PMH)?
Perinatal mental health (PMH) problems are those which occur during pregnancy (antenatally) or in the two years following the birth of a child (postnatally). Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of new and expectant parents and covers a wide range of conditions, it could be a new mental health problem, or an episode of a problem you've experienced in the past.
The mental health and well-being of dads and partners can also be affected at this time and many services and professionals offer support for the wider family.
Do I need support?
It can feel overwhelming to reach out for help if you are facing challenges to your emotional wellbeing in pregnancy or after having a baby.
It can be tricky to understand what support is available to you or whether you even need support in the first place. Rest assured that you are not alone in this experience and that help is available.
Hearts & Minds has been set-up by three parents who each have lived experience of perinatal mental health challenges, who know how hard it is to try and make sense of how you are feeling. We’ve put together some resources to help you navigate the experience as well as where and how to reach out for support.
We have compiled some other thoughts and questions raised by other parents that you may find helpful. Visit our Parent common Q&A
Where can I get support in my pregnancy or after birth?
It’s good to speak to a health professional about how you are feeling. You can also seek out support in your local community and check if there are any voluntary or community sector (VCS) organisations who might be able to help. Find a local servicehere.
Information about organisations offering support across the country can be found here.
Support can be found by contacting your GP who will be able to advise about possible treatment options and signpost you to other local services. If you are currently pregnant or your baby is less than 10 days old, your community midwife will be able to talk with you about how you are feeling. If you baby is older than 10 days, your health visitor will also be able to provide support and advice.
If you feel like you need urgent help then don’t be afraid to reach out to crisis services. See our list of crisis services. Please remember you are never alone.
What is IAPT?
Every area of the country has access to IAPT services (Improving access to Psychological Therapies), talking therapies that are accessible to everyone over the age of 18. For more details and to find your local IAPT service: Find an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT)
Who are perinatal mental health specialist community teams and what do they do?
Some women may need some extra support for moderate to severe mental health needs during their pregnancy or after the birth of their child. This support is provided by NHS specialist community perinatal mental health teams. Referrals to these teams is made via a primary care health professional such as a GP, midwife or health visitor.
It is good to speak to your regular health professional about how you are feeling in the first instance, they will be able to signpost you to local services and make any referrals if needed.
What does VCS mean?
VCS stands for voluntary and community sector. Many essential support services for perinatal mental health operate within the VCS sector. They can range in size and can operate in different ways, including as a charity or community interest company (CIC).
The aim of The Hearts and Minds Partnership is to connect and support the community of grassroots VCS groups and organisations who provide mental health support for women and families during the perinatal period. The partnership seeks to provide families across England affected by perinatal mental health issues better access to local, user-led support services, operating below the threshold for specialist NHS services.