NHS wellbeing scheme praised

Community mental health nurse, Kirsty McColm and Justina Ritchie, community mental health team leader
Community mental health nurse, Kirsty McColm and Justina Ritchie, community mental health team leader

An initiative which aims to promote mental wellbeing among pregnant women and new mums by NHS Dumfries and Galloway has been praised in an NSPCC report.

Community mental health team leader, Justina Ritchie, is based in the Gardenhill Primary Care Centre in Castle Douglas.

She has led the work which has resulted in a more holistic approach to the mental health of women at a time when their lives are changing dramatically.

Justina has also developed strong links with the West of Scotland peri-natal community psychiatric nurse network and the Leverndale Hospital mother and baby unit in Glasgow.

She said: “Up to one in seven women can experience mental health issues during pregnancy or after giving birth, it is important to provide the best support and advice that we can.

“Women who have previously experienced, or are experiencing severe mental health problems, are particularly vulnerable and in need of additional care.

“With this in mind we have developed a network of link workers in each of the community mental health teams and across a wide range of services including occupational therapy, psychology, in-patient wards, learning disability and drug and alcohol services.

“These link workers have been specially trained by nurse consultant Elaine Clark and consultant psychiatrist, Roc Cantwell from the Leverndale Hospital mother and baby unit. 

They also attend meetings every three months where they can share best practice, discuss case reviews and undertake further training with midwives and health visitors.”

Community mental health nurse, Kirsty McColm, has worked closely with Justina to identify link workers and make arrangements for them to be trained.

Kirsty said: “The link workers act as advisors who provide advice and support to their own teams as well as colleagues in primary care, health visitors and midwives.

“These links mean we can quickly and easily share good practice and undertake training together which has improved joint working and has had a positive impact on patients.

“This is a new model of care which provides a clear process for reviewing individual cases and delivers a safe, co-ordinated approach to mental health care for pregnant women and new mums.

“We are really pleased that the NSPCC has recognised the progress we have made as a small Board.”

Eastenders have brought to light the harrowing symptoms new mums can face.