It’s been a couple of weeks since Maternal Mental Health Awareness week 2021 and today Pause launches its report on how maternal mental health services can best support women who have experienced the removal of children from their care. You can download the report here.
Whilst Pause is not a specialist in women’s maternal mental health, we do have insight into the impact of current services and processes on women who have experienced – or are at risk of experiencing – the removal of children from their care. We were extremely pleased to be asked to contribute women’s experience, insight and recommendations to the development of the new maternal mental health service in Cheshire and Merseyside. We hope that the recommendations made are of use to services across the UK as they continue to consider the distinct groups who are often excluded from mainstream maternal mental health services.
The women’s experiences were complex – and often incredibly traumatic. But their guidance for how services can improve showed that small changes can make a big difference. Their ‘top tips’ –some of which are below –can be used as a tool for teams to evaluate how services are delivered.
Women’s top tips included:
The women involved felt glad to be listened to, but several were surprised that anyone cared about their experiences. This made me reflect upon how vital effective service design is – and how much more impact social and public sector services could have if we routinely listened, and designed with, those whom the service is going to support.
Service design is all about working with the people we are trying to support to make sure we design services that will work for them. Luckily, charities and public sector organisations are now investing more resources in service design – using people’s thoughts, feelings, experiences and feedback to improve services and systems, and drive impact. Parkinson’s UK for example have their own Service Design team, as do most government departments. But knowledge and application of service design is still not widespread. And the agile way of working, based on feedback and iteration, that it requires can seem quite uncomfortable to many teams used to working in a more linear way.
What I can say, from delving into some of this work at Pause is that – when given the chance – people often want to use what they have been through to support positive change. And that listening and working together can create better outcomes. One woman told us:
“I want people to know what I have been through. If they [the new team] need support from me I will be there”.
Not only that, but there are a growing amount of resources to support service design within the social/public sector – and I have set up a jamboard which you can add to if you have any resources for service design to share!
Please read the report, and our suggestions for further reading on maternal mental health and on recurrent removals. If you would like any more information, please get in touch with me or follow Pause on Twitter.
Roz Thomasoo, Knowledge & Evaluation Lead, Pause
Further reading on Maternal Mental Health:
The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) is a charity and coalition of UK organisations with a vision to see all women across the UK get consistent, accessible and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth. Its resource hub brings together essential resources for UK professionals working in perinatal mental health.
Further reading on recurrent removals:
Pause’s website and external evaluation provides more information on the Pause programme, and the evidence we have from working alongside women who have experienced recurrent care proceedings.
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