This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week, this got me thinking more about mental health and health visitors role in this. 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems each year , with 1 in 6 reporting a mental health problem in any given week. Types of common mental health problems include:

  • Depression
  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder.

Medications appears to be the most reported type of treatment.

 The Mental Health Foundation recommend 10 things you can do to help you look after your mental health. Their new report also identified that nearly two thirds of us have experienced mental ill health at some point in our lifetime and that just 13% of us are living with high levels of good mental health.

If you would like to find your mental health score then you can use their link Here. 

The most common mental health problems experienced during pregnancy and after birth are anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Approximately 68% of women and 57% of men with mental health problems are parents. Poor maternal and paternal mental health can be associated with poor outcomes for children but not all children of parents with mental health problems will be at risk. The Institute of health visiting provide top tips for parents which includes mental health Emotional health and wellbeing – Mothers And Emotional health and wellbeing – Fathers.

Maternal perinatal mental health has been identified by the government as one of the 6 high impact areas, where health visitors can make an impact in improving outcomes for children. Health visitors can provide anticipatory guidance, assess for risk and signs of mental health problems, manage mild to moderate perinatal mental illness and refer on to more specialist care.  During health visitors contacts your health visitor may ask you the Whooley questions, which were introduced by the National Institute  of Clinical Excellance (NICE, 2007) when they reviewed their guidelines for antenatal and postnatal menatal health. The questions are designed to try identify two symptoms which may be present in depression. These questions are as follows:

  • During the past month have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless? Yes | No
  • During the past month have you often been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things? Yes | No

 A third question should be considered if a woman answers “yes” to either of the initial questions.

  • Is this something you feels you need or want help with?

The most important thing with mental health concerns is to tell someone, whether that be a health professionals or family member, do not bottle it up. A lady once told me that she suffered alone with post-natal depression after her first baby as she was worried her child would be taken away. For her second child she was well supported by myself and understood that this is it not the case and felt able to discuss concerns with me should she need too. 

Support now also consists of online help as technology increases everyday, PND and Me offered support to those experiencing postnatal depression through a weekly #PNDHour on twitter every Wednesday at 8pm, along with the ability to chat with others using the hashtag #PNDChat.

Useful contact numbers if you require help:

Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)

Website: http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk

Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)

Website: http://www.mind.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)

Website: http://www.rethink.org


Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Website: http://www.samaritans.org.uk


Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness. 

Phone: 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6-11pm)

SANEmail email: sanemail@org.uk

Website: http://www.sane.org.uk


Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.

Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)

Website: http://www.youngminds.org.uk


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