Colette Cowan, Jennifer O'Sullivan and Dr Naro Imcha at the recent Conference on Perinatal Mental Health Picture: Brian Arthur
THE UNIVERSITY Maternity Hospital Limerick and the HSE is set to develop a perinatal mental health service through the appointment of a consultant psychiatrist and a clinical midwifery manager.
This was announced at a major conference at University Hospital Limerick, which examined future developments of perinatal mental health nationally and in the Mid-West region.
The all-day conference, held at the Clinical Education Research Centre at the Dooradoyle hospital last Wednesday, featured top experts in psychiatry and maternity care.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Mas Mahady Mohamad said that if perinatal mental health illnesses are identified and treated early, then “we can potentially avoid all these serious negative consequences”.
“One of the things we have learnt from research in maternal mental health in recent years is that the costs of not identifying and treating perinatal mental illness are high. Unfortunately, mental illness during and after pregnancy can have a wide range of negative effects not only to the mother, but also to the child, to partners and the family unit as a whole.
“Women who suffer from perinatal mental illness often suffer in silence and fear, afraid of the stigma and potential consequences on their ability to care for their children. We also know that when untreated, perinatal mental illness can impair the interaction between the mother and her baby, leading to difficulties with emotional, cognitive and social development of the child.”
HSE Mid-West chief officer Bernard Gloster said that “perinatal mental health is of such significant importance, and there is a clear requirement for all aspects of Healthcare Services to develop awareness and make appropriate responses, this conference is another step in developing that awareness.”
This conference was held following recommendations outlined in the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026.