A vital mental health service for expectant and new mums has been relaunched in North Ayrshire after increased demand.

The former North Ayrshire perinatal mental health nursing team has been re-branded as the Perinatal Wellbeing Team, North Ayrshire Integration Joint Board heard at their meeting on Thursday.

The service, which has supported more than 500 women in six years, continues to provide support to expectant and new mums with low level mental health and well-being concerns. At any one time, can be supporting between 50 and 60 women. 

In 2017, the health and social care partnership service was initially established to focus on the Kilwinning and Irvine areas. 

The perinatal mental health nurse (PMHN) for the service at the time, supported 62 women in the first year – a clear indication of the demand in the community. 

Over the following years, demand continued to increase to the point that in 2022, a second PMHN joined the team followed by one more in 2023. 

The team is also supported by a healthcare support worker, who provides ongoing support in newly established group sessions, facilitating play and nutrition workshops, and offering additional assistance in homes and communities to support mums and babies. 

The expansion means that all of North Ayrshire now has support from the team.

They also work closely with the Ayrshire and Arran perinatal mental health service which supports mums with more severe mental health concerns. 

In just six years, the service has assessed and supported 573 women, primarily through referrals from health visitors, midwives, family nurses and GPs. 

The Irvine and Kilwinning locality continues to account for the highest number of referrals and demand, constituting almost half of all referrals received. 

Despite increasing demand, the team remains steadfast in its commitment to uphold the core values of meeting maternal wellbeing needs, combating mental health stigma and providing empathetic support, while also facilitating connections between mums and with their local communities.