When I was unwell I had several disappointing GP experiences and one downright dangerous one. This was truly terrifying at the time since your GP is your first port of call for all illness, so to realise my doctor had no basic understanding of anxiety or PND, very little empathy and no idea where to signpost me to for future treatment was alarming to say the least. Not to mention the fact that actually finding the courage to visit your GP when you are suffering from the symptoms of Perinatal Mental Illness can be very difficult, so if when you do arrive in their office you are left feeling even more lost it can be a devastating blow.
I was fortunate that I had support from my health visitor, the Perinatal Emotional Wellbeing team, and eventually, an NHS therapist. But for many parents these other options simply aren’t available so the role of the GP in treating these conditions is subsequently the most important of all. Since I’ve recovered, I’ve always believed that significant change begins at the GP surgery so when I met Dr Carrie Ladd and found out about her work as RCGP Clinical Fellow for Perinatal Mental Health I was incredibly pleased and excited by the project.
Last Friday was the result of over a year of work by Dr Ladd and the rest of the team when they launched the Perinatal Mental Health Toolkit. I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch event and it was fantastic to be in the room with so many professionals and fellow PMH advocates all working towards a really important common goal. On a personal level, it was also very comforting and emotional to feel that PND and other perinatal mental health problems are finally being given the attention (and budget) required.
As well as an inspiring and positive speech from Associate National Clinical Director for Perinatal Mental Health for NHS England Dr Giles Berrisford, we also got a first look at the online toolkit. “A ‘one-stop’ hub of resources to support GPs to deliver the best possible care to patients with perinatal mental health conditions“, the online resource covers every area of perinatal mental health and the many different factors that can both contribute to it and result from it. For example:
- Clinical resources – NICE guidelines, published papers on the importance of Perintal Mental Health etc
- Downloadable posters for GP waiting rooms
- Current information for use of medication during breastfeeding and pregnancy (extremely important in my opinion as I’ve experienced a distinct lack of knowledge in this area among GPs)
- Information for managing suicide risk
- Guidelines on domestic violence
- Countless resources to pass on to parents who are currently suffering
- Links to peer support groups and online forums
- Information on infant feeding and infant mental health
- Online training modules for healthcare providers
And much more.
I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer volume of information included and The RCGP should be extremely proud of the project. Although aimed at GPs in the first instance I was pleased to realise this would be an open resource available to the general public too. I hope this resource will go a long way to despelling myths surrounding PMH, offering further training for healthcare providers and, hopefully, reducing some of the misinformation that myself and fellow sufferers have experienced in the past.
The resource is now available and can be found by clicking here. It is being rolled out to RCGP members and featured in various jounals and publications as I type. Dr Ladd admitted that engaging GPs without a special interest in the topic may be a little more challenging but I’m optimistic that the ease of use of such a resource will go a long way to helping improve GP care for Perinatal Mental illness and will hopefully help any GPs who feel they need to grow their knowledge in order to provide the best care to their patients.
I’m so happy for and grateful to Dr Ladd and her team, they should be so proud of such a effective and much-needed project. Please feel free to share news of this resource far and wide, by sharing the link and/or the press release (found here).