New parents in Norfolk and Waveney experiencing mental health difficulties are to get easier access to the right help to meet their needs, thanks to a £177,000 cash boost from the NHS.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) will use the one-off funding to develop a system to direct pregnant women or new mums who are experiencing mental health issues to the most appropriate service.

For those with the most complex problems, this could be the Community Perinatal Mental Health Service, which provides specialist care for conditions such as severe post-natal depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis. Others may be referred to the Wellbeing Service or offered mental health support through their health visitor.

NSFT is planning to carry out the new method of triage using a multi-disciplinary team made up of a wellbeing practitioner, midwife, mental health practitioner and health visitor. The model is based on a system which was first piloted in Devon, and will initially be trialled for nine months before its success is evaluated.

The remainder of the money will be used to develop a dedicated micro-website to act as a one-stop-shop for parents looking for information about mental health while providing links to further sources of support. It will also fund a research project into the best way to meet the needs of partners and dads, which will be carried out by the Get Me Out The Four Walls (GMOTFW) charity.

Susan Stolworthy, Operational Manager with the service, said: “We are really pleased that we have been awarded this funding, which will allow us to further improve and expand the range of services which we are able to offer this vulnerable group.

“Around half of the referrals which the Community Perinatal Mental Health Service receive don’t meet our criteria. Previously, we would signpost these women to other services which could help, but quite often they would find it difficult to engage. By changing the way we triage new patients, we can offer them greater support and follow up where necessary to make sure they are receiving the right help to meet their needs.

“The work with GMOTFW we'll be doing will also be really valuable as it will enable us to better tailor the support we provide to dads and partners so that we can help the whole family go on to enjoy a healthy, happy life with their new baby.”

The bid for the funding was led by Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership (the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, or STP for short). The STP brings together health and care organisation across Norfolk and Waveney to improve services for local people.

Clive Rennie, Assistant Director of Integrated Commissioning for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities with the Norfolk CCGs and Norfolk County Council, said: “This is excellent news for perinatal services across Norfolk and Waveney and adds to the significant developments that have been made in these services in recent years.”