Mums in Newham and Tower Hamlets experiencing perinatal mental illness have access to a new resource created by women who have been through it themselves.

A dedicated website is being launched by the East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) today (Friday, May 7), coinciding with Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, with the key message that anyone experiencing symptoms is not alone.

The website will act as a first point of contact for families who are expecting a baby and may not know there is a specialist mental health service for mums.

It features information about different perinatal mental health symptoms, case studies highlighting the support people receive, and a new online referral system to make the process of reaching out for help simple and efficient.

ELFT perinatal lead Justine Cawley said: “As a society we are becoming more and more willing and able to talk about once-taboo subjects like mental health.

“That can only be a good thing, and I want mums to know that perinatal mental illness is not unusual.

“But if undiagnosed or untreated early on, it can have a lasting impact on a mum and her child."

Mental illnesses associated with pregnancy and childbirth include chronic stress or anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or postpartum psychosis.

“The ELFT Specialist Perinatal Service want to work speedily and efficiently with anyone that reaches out for support," Ms Cawley said.

"We can then work together to create a path to recovery as quickly as possible.”

Up to one in five new and expectant mums can experience severe mental illness and north east London is one of the fastest growing areas for births in the UK.

ELFT has encouraged patients and service users to take a role in developing and managing therapeutic programmes of recovery using the “trauma-informed approach” to care.

One of the mums involved in the project, who didn’t want to be named, said: “They will access the website at one of their hardest times emotionally and mentally but knowing they will be reading something created by mums that has understanding and warmth and compassion to it - not in a clinical language - will hopefully make them feel comfort and a sense of safety.”