The IMPROVE HIT has focused on a single project this year, specifically looking to understand and address inequalities within perinatal mental health support.
This project has been funded through NHS Charities Together. It aims to increase access to perinatal mental health services through the development and recruitment of a new post: Perinatal Mental Health Diversity and Inclusion Lead. This post is employed by the Bluebell Care Trust and has also been part funded by a grant secured by Bluebell from Bristol City Funds & the Quartet Community Foundation, in addition to some funding from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
p>We carried out an inclusive recruitment process to recruit a representative colleague with extensive experience of working with ethnic minority communities. The post was successfully recruited to in November 2022.
To support the project, we have also recruited a Research Associate through additional funding secured through the CCG’s Research Capability Funding call. A Speciality Doctor from the Specialised Community Perinatal Mental Health Service is supporting the quantitative data collection and analysis.
We are aware that other groups, for example those with learning disabilities, fathers, those from the LGBTQIA+ community, may not be accessing perinatal mental health treatment and support. However, after discussions about funded capacity and the short time span of the project, it was agreed to concentrate on Black and South Asian. communities as these are the largest ethnic groups in the region. This will be reviewed regularly throughout the work and will adapt as the role of the Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Bluebell develops.
The Diversity and Inclusion Lead has begun to develop relationships with community leaders and voluntary sector partners across the region who work with many of these groups already. These include perinatal mental health and other local grass roots charities and organisations including Mothers for Mothers, Rockabye and Home Start, and community centres and hubs in Easton and Barton Hill.
A rapid evaluation is underway, including interviews with organisations delivering care and those with lived experience who may face barriers in accessing care. The aim is to explore barriers from both the perspective of those needing to access support, and also from those delivering care.
The Inclusion and Diversity Lead is also leading a working group of parents with lived experience of perinatal mental illness from within these communities to steer the project’s design and development and to identify the key outcome measures. We intend to use the findings to make service provision for mental health during the perinatal period more accessible to those from ethnic minority groups.