Maternal Mental Health
This is a small, specialist tertiary mental health service providing a service to women who are pregnant or have a baby under 12 months of age, who have developed a severe mental health illness related to the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and/or the adjustment to motherhood.
A consultation / liaison service is provided to the community mental health teams who manage women with an existing mental illness who are pregnant or have a baby under the age of one.
Maternal Mental Health accepts referrals from other mental health services including community mental health teams, psychiatric liaison services, psychiatrists in private practise and other maternal mental health teams.
A pre-conception assessment is offered to women with severe mental illness (e.g. bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia) who are planning to have a baby.
Referrals are directed in the first instance to the woman's local community mental health team for triage / assessment.
Referrals requesting service involvement for preventive reasons are accepted for women with a history of psychosis and/or a perinatal mental illness of a severity that required mental health service input to stabilise.
Maternal Mental Health provides this service to all women of childbearing age who live in the Waitemata District Health Board area.
What is Mental Illness?
Mental illness is a clinically significant behaviour or psychological (to do with the mind) disorder that is associated with distress or disability. It is not just the way someone responds to a particular event nor is it limited to the way a person interacts with society.
A mental illness can continuously or intermittently (occasionally) affect our capacity for speech, language, mood, affect, thoughts, perceptions, insight, judgement, cognition (understanding) and volition (ability to make choices). It can limit our ability to function as society would normally expect of us and can put us and others at risk.
Mental illness is therefore, a broad term that covers problems ranging from minor to severe disorders.
Who is a Psychiatrist?
A ‘psychiatrist’ is a doctor who, after qualifying as a medical doctor, receives further training and develops the expertise to become a ‘specialist’ in identifying symptoms of, and diagnosing and treating, mental illnesses. You may have been referred to a psychiatrist if your doctor feels you need specialist help.