A new Health Integration Team (HIT) to improve the mental health of parents from conception through to the first year after their child's birth, has been approved by the Bristol Health Partners Executive Group. The Improving Perinatal Mental Health (IMP) HIT aims to improve the identification and subsequent care of parents with poor mental health, and to develop a co-ordinated perinatal mental health service for Bristol. IMP HIT is led by co-Directors Dr Jonathan Evans, University of Bristol and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, and Inge Shepherd, Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group Maternity and Children's Services.
Improving the mental health of mothers and fathers during pregnancy and in the first postnatal year is a health priority, not only because it's important for parents but it's crucial for the health and wellbeing of the next generation. Despite being the focus of a NICE guideline and many reports, progress to improve the mental health and wider emotional well-being of parents remains limited.
One of the biggest challenges is that many organisations are involved in the provision of services, including primary care, community midwives, maternity services, health visitors, mental health services, social services and non-statutory organisations.
Dr Jonathan Evans said: "We are delighted that IMP HIT has been approved. The development of IMP HIT provides an excellent opportunity to tackle the issues in the perinatal mental health care pathway, by working together to implement existing evidence through NICE guidance and to provide a framework to conduct studies, especially clinical trials, to develop the evidence base further and for Bristol to become a leading centre for perinatal mental health."