About the service
The perinatal mental health service is a special team that supports women who're having mental health problems when they’re pregnant or after they’ve had their baby. Difficulties in this period are very common.
Our aim is to help you to be as well as possible during your pregnancy and after birth so that you can enjoy family life.
You might need help from the perinatal mental health service if:
- You have moderate or severe mental health problems, or have had them in the past
- your mental health problems are not getting better with help from your GP.
We are a team made up of:
- Doctors called psychiatrists
- Mental health social workers
- Occupational therapists
- Peer support workers, who are people who have experienced mental health difficulties in pregnancy or after they had a baby
- Nursery nurses.
We offer specialist assessment, treatment, advice and support for women who:
- Are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or have given birth in the last eighteen months
- Have a current or previous moderate to severe mental illness
- Have a mental health problem which has not responded to treatments provided by a GP
- Live in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, or Hounslow
- Have a GP in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham or Hounslow.
We also have a Maternity Trauma and Loss Care (M-TLC) service which provides specialist support and treatment to women who've experienced pregnancy or birth and currently pregnant people who're affected by severe fear of childbirth, birth trauma or baby loss.
You can talk to a health professional to tell them you need our help and ask them to refer you to the perinatal mental health services.
You can also refer yourself to the service online.
We accept referrals from any professionals, including your GP, midwife, obstetrician, social worker, nurse, mental health worker or any other professional supporting you.
They can check our referral information for professionals page.
It's important that you have specialist advice from the perinatal mental health service even if you are already under the care of another mental health service.
We'll work with the team you are already seeing.
What happens next?
We’ll read the written referral and decide if the perinatal mental health service is right for you:
- If we need more information, we might phone you to ask a few questions
- We may also contact your GP or other professionals
- If we decide that you need to be under our care, we’ll contact you by letter, phone or email to arrange a first assessment appointment
- If we do not think that this is the right service for you, we’ll write to you and the professional who referred you. We’ll suggest other services and sources of support you may find helpful.
The videos below are testimonials from one of our Perinatal Service users, Tania.
She explains how the Perinatal service has helped her and why it’s important for others to seek help.
You can watch other clips from Tania on our videos page.
You'll receive an appointment letter with information about when, where and who you'll be seen by. We encourage you to attend the appointment in person and you are welcome to bring your baby with you. We are also able to offer video appointments if you cannot attend in person.
If you have any questions about your appointment, please call us on:
Ealing: 0208 354 8180
Hammersmith and Fulham: 0203 313 3033
Hounslow: 0208 483 1525
From Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, someone in the team will be here to answer the phone.
Your first appointment will last for about an hour.
- Ask you about any symptoms and difficulties you have
- Ask questions about your past experiences
- Give you information and advice about any risk you may have of becoming unwell
- Suggest treatments that can help you.
Then we’ll agree a plan with you for your care in the short and long term.
Where appointments are held
We see women in different places, including antenatal clinics, children’s centres and at home. We can also offer video appointments.
We will do our best to be flexible with appointment dates and times.
Who can come to your appointment
- Please bring anyone you want to be with you
- Your baby and other children are welcome – though some women prefer to have them looked after by someone else
- Bring your partner, a family member, or a supportive friend. It's a good way for them to find out how to help you.
You can ask for an interpreter to be at your appointments, either in person or over the phone.
You can ask for written information to be translated.
We can arrange both services. Please let us know if you would like an interpreter or a translation.
Some women can develop severe mental health difficulties within the first year after giving birth.
Women with these illnesses, such as postpartum psychosis, are treated in hospital - in a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU).
This is a specialist psychiatric unit where mothers with mental illness are admitted with their babies. You should be offered a bed in an MBU if you need an admission to hospital to help with your care.
You'll be supported with caring for your baby while you have the care and treatment you need.
The nearest MBU for women in West London is Coombe Wood Mother and Baby Unit at Central Middlesex Hospital.
You can read more about mother and baby units on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website here.
Remember, you can contact the team at any stage of your care if you have any questions. You can also read more about how the Trust holds your health records following treatment here.
Your confidential health record
Electronic health records
An electronic health record is set up for everyone referred to West London NHS Trust.
This record is confidential (private). It can only be seen by professionals employed by the trust who are involved in your care.
Your electronic health record contains:
- Basic details about you, like your address and date of birth
- Contact details for your GP and other professionals involved in your care
- Information about your appointments, care and treatment
- Letters about your care that we send and receive.
Doctors, nurses, therapists and other health professionals can use this information to make sure you receive the best possible care.
Find out more about your health records
Letters in your health record
Professionals who see you often write a letter to describe what you talked about in your appointment. This will happen after your first appointment, and at other times during your care.
These letters are sent to your GP and other professionals with your consent. This is to let them know:
- You had an appointment and what you talked about
- Details of any advice you were given
- The plan you agreed for your care.
Letters: your rights
You will get copies of all letters written about you, unless you say that you don’t want them.
It is important that some information is shared with the other professionals involved in your care, including your midwife, obstetrician and health visitor.
- You decide how much information is shared.
- You might want these professionals to have as much detail about you as possible - this helps them understand you more quickly and means you do not have to keep repeating information.
- You might prefer that only a small amount of information is shared, such as your diagnosis, the main concerns and the plan for your care.
Let us know
You can talk to anyone in the perinatal mental health service about the information you are happy to share.
Your consent to treatment
We request your permission before you're given any type of medical treatment, test or examination.
Find out more about what consent means on the NHS website.
Your rights under the Mental Health Act
If you have a mental health disorder, your rights and how you can be treated are set out in a law called the Mental Health Act. The Mental Health Act Code of Practice tells everyone how to use this law and what they must do.
Find easy read factsheets on your rights under the Mental Health Act on the NHS website
Getting a second opinion
If you're not sure about a diagnosis or treatment suggested to you, then you can ask for a second opinion, although you do not have a legal right to one.
First of all, ask us. We will ask another consultant to see you. Depending on the situation, this could be another consultant in our service, or in our trust, or a perinatal consultant who works for another trust.
Additional help and support
You can also speak to your GP or the trust’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
Find out how to contact PALS.
See the NHS website for information on Mental Health Assessments.
Advocates work on your behalf, helping you to understand your rights and supporting you if you have concerns about your treatment.
If you have any feedback about any of our services, or the treatment you have received, we're always happy to listen.
You can find out how to give feedback, raise concerns or make complaints in the contact section of this website.
We accept referrals from any professional including GPs, midwives, health visitors, obstetricians and mental health professionals.
1.You can refer any woman who lives or is registered with a GP in:
- Hammersmith and Fulham
And women receiving inpatient care at:
- Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Hospital
- West Middlesex University Hospital.
2. Referrals are essential for women with current or previous:
- Bipolar affective disorder
- Schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder
- Previous postpartum psychosis
- Family history of postpartum psychosis
- Severe depression
- Other psychotic illness.
These women should be referred even if they are currently well.
3. Referrals are also accepted for women with other moderate to severe or complex mental illnesses. Such problems might include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Personality disorder.
4. If a woman is prescribed a mood stabiliser, please state this in the referral, so that these women can be prioritised and urgent advice given regarding medication.
5. The service only works with women who cannot effectively be managed in primary care.
6. If a woman is already under the care of a community mental health team, she should still be referred. We will work jointly with this team.
7. If the woman is a psychiatric inpatient during pregnancy or the postnatal period, she should be referred, so that the perinatal mental health service can see her during admission, ensure she has antenatal care if she is pregnant and that she is followed up on discharge from the inpatient unit.
8. If substance misuse is the primary problem, please refer to specialist substance misuse services. We can work jointly with substance misuse services if the woman also has a moderate to severe mental illness.
9. Women under 18 years old can be referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the perinatal mental health service will work jointly with CAMHS.
Where to make referrals
You can refer through the Single Point of Access (SPA) service.
Non-urgent referrals can be made directly to perinatal mental health services. We can provide further information on referral criteria and our referral form.
Contact the team at wlm-tr.PNMHEHHF@nhs.net.
How to refer to IAPT services
You can refer women to their local Improving Access to Talking Therapies (IAPT) service.