Background: Specialist community perinatal mental health (PMH) teams offer specialist psychiatric and psychological assessments and care for women with complex or severe mental health problems during the perinatal period. This paper reports on the findings from an evaluation of a Specialist PMH service.
Methods: The evaluation used a longitudinal mixed-methods design with repeated measures. Quantitative data collection was facilitated through Patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) on admission and discharge from 40 women who attended for specialist PMH treatment. Qualitative data was collected through focus group discussions with practitioners providing the service. Within-group t-tests were used to test for significant differences in mental health and wellbeing (α = 0.05) between time points. Thematic analysis was undertaken on qualitative data.
Results: Patients showed statistically significant improvements, with large effect sizes, in mean scores across all outcome measures from the first to the last appointment. Key themes in terms of enabling effective service delivery were identified as consistency in service priorities during times of change, team working, breaking down barriers, and seeing what the service can achieve. Inadequate funding, recruitment and training issues, and having to find new ways of working were perceived as challenges to effective service delivery.
Conclusions: The findings illustrate that women can now access appropriate, high quality specialist PMH care and are provided with a service that clearly focuses upon recovery. From the perspectives of practitioners within the specialist PMH team, effectiveness was contingent on strong leadership and consistency, alongside team working and collaboration