Perinatal mental health support in Leeds during the coronavirus outbreak

Being pregnant and having a baby is generally seen as a time of great happiness and excitement. The reality is that many people can feel low or anxious and experience problems with their emotional health. The current restrictions caused by coronavirus may also be adding to worries.

Many women feel guilty or embarrassed about these feelings and end up not seeking the support that they need. If you are feeling low, anxious or overwhelmed, it's important to talk to someone about how you're feeling - your midwife, health visitor or GP is a good starting point.

There is still lots of support available in Leeds at the moment, so don't put off reaching out for support due to the coronavirus. Some services are offering support over the telephone or by video, but others are still seeing families face-to-face when necessary.

This page sets out the temporary changes in delivery for services that support women and families with emotional health during the perinatal period (pregnancy and in the first year after birth) plus some useful web links. It was last updated on Tuesday 5 May 2020.

This page sets out the changes amongst services that can be accessed by self-referral:

  • 0-19 service (includes Health Visitors and breastfeeding support)
  • Preparation for Birth and Beyond courses
  • Pregnancy in Mind courses
  • Hamala Service (for women from minority ethnic communities)
  • Homestart
  • Wave (peer support group)
  • Leeds Mental Well-being Service
  • Children's Centre Counselling Service
  • Women's Counselling and Therapy Service (WCTS) specialist services
  • Gingerbread
  • PANDAS Foundation (includes helpline)

It then sets out changes in relevant services that require referral from health professional:

Finally there are some links to useful guidance and websites, including the NEST Leeds website which features blogs from women in Leeds.

Services that do not need a referral:

The 0-19 Team (this service includes the Health Visiting service) is providing:

  • Antenatal contacts to all women from 34 week in pregnancy by telephone
  • Birth contacts between 10 and 14 days following birth by telephone.

The service will offer support over the phone for mothers and partners who feel that they are struggling with their emotional health. They will visit families if concerns are raised and if there is a need to.

Breastfeeding support can also be accessed over the phone, and where needed and possible it is offered virtually face-to-face. There are also free resources to support families during this time with infant feeding, antenatal preparation and parenting, they can be accessed here

The Preparation for Birth and Beyond courses are not currently available.

Pregnancy in Mind (delivered by NSPCC) is an 8 week programme for people who are pregnant and who may have experiences which affect how they feel about their pregnancy. The programme offers parents-to-be the chance to try different ways of helping improve their emotional wellbeing during pregnancy. It has been adapted to offer telephone or online support to parents who are expecting their baby but may have anxieties, worries or are struggling to enjoy their pregnancy. This programme has been opened to now include pregnant women up to 38 weeks pregnant. The programme will be delivered offering four sessions which will explore strategies to help reduce anxiety, enable better connection with their unborn baby and prepare emotionally for their baby arriving. The programme can be delivered to single parents to be or as a couple. This can be accessed by self-referral, or by professionals who want to refer, by calling 01274 381 440 between Monday to Friday 9-5pm.

A telephone advice line for pregnant women booked to deliver at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and those who have had their baby at LTHT. The helpline is to assist with any questions or queries you may have regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus) relating to your pregnancy, your care and your on-going care. The call handler will be a midwife and is available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. COVID-19 telephone advice line: 07464 907 978.

The Haamla service provides support for pregnant women, and their families, from minority ethnic communities, including asylum seekers and refugees, during their pregnancy and postnatal period. It aims to improve access within maternity services and empower and inform women of the choices available during their pregnancy and birth. The service aims to move away from face-to-face visits unless it is necessary. Contact the Haamla Office on 0113 206 547 for more information.

Home-Start is a family support charity that helps families with young children deal with the challenges they face. Home-Start volunteers support families struggling with post-natal depression, isolation, physical health problems, bereavement and many other problems. Home-visiting support has been postponed at this time. Instead staff and some volunteers will be offering telephone/email support to families. You can call the office and leave a message which they will be checking at regular intervals or if you would prefer to speak to them straight away, you can call 07444380281. You can also email them at admin@home-startleeds.co.uk or co-ordinator@home-startleeds.co.uk

Wave is a parent peer support group based in North Leeds. The group is for mums, but they support all parents, whether struggling with mental illness, or just going through a hard time. Wave usually meet weekly on Friday mornings, but are currently holding Zoom sessions through the week instead (times vary so see Facebook page 'Wave Mums' for up to date details). It is also possible to email hellowavemums@gmail.com or direct message via Facebook or Instagram if you would like to reach out privately. Please be aware this group is run by volunteers with their own family commitments.

Leeds Mental Wellbeing Service offers support and psychological therapies for common mental health problems like anxiety, stress and low moods. The service gives priority to women who are pregnant or in the first year after the birth of their baby. This means that you don't have to join the general waiting list, however, as this is not a crisis service there is usually a short wait. This service is open to anyone over 17 years old in Leeds so it's also available for partners or other family members. All classes and workshops have stopped and alternative support is being offered instead, through telephone, online and video-platforms. They are continuing to take new referrals. The service also provides a wide range of online video straight away online without an assessment:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Mindfulness
  • Understanding self-esteem
  • Panic attacks
  • Managing stress in parenthood
  • Depression
  • Bereavement
  • Postnatal depression.

Please see the Leeds Mental Wellbeing Service website for details of online video therapy and more information about the service.

Children’s Centre Counselling Service (run by the charity Northpoint) is available for anyone in the Leeds area who is pregnant (or whose partner is pregnant) or is a parent or carer of a child aged five and under. Appointments are held in local Children's Centres. You can ask a health professional to refer you or you can find contacts to refer yourself here.

The Children's Centre counselling service continues to support parents and carers, including women who are pregnant and their partners. The service is operating remotely and counselling sessions are taking place by telephone or video call. Parents/carers can self-refer for counselling by phoning/texting the nearest counsel or online using the Children's Centre Counselling Service Referral Form Professionals can also refer. See contact details here - Children's Centre Counselling Service.

Women's Counselling and Therapy Service (WCTS) offers accessible counselling and psychotherapy for Leeds women and girls on low incomes. This includes specialist services for women who are pregnant or who have been pregnant in the last 12 months (including new mothers and those who have lost babies or pregnancies) to support women in managing their emotional wellbeing. WCTS has adapted its service, now offering phone or text Keep in Touch calls, casework and remote counselling for current services users. It is not currently taking new referrals, but plans to open up for new referrals mid-May.

The PANDAS Foundation is here to help support and advise any parent and their networks who need support with perinatal mental illness. They are also there to inform and guide family members, carers, friends and employers as to how they can support someone who is suffering.

FREE helpline 0808 1961 776. Available on all landlines. Monday-Sunday 9am- 8pm. Manned by a team of trained volunteers who will be happy to chat to you and direct you to the right support.

PANDAS Email Support: info@pandasfoundation.org.uk available 365 days a year. They'll respond within 72 hours. Please get in touch if you'd like any more information regarding perinatal mental illness or are looking for support for yourself or your partner, friend or colleague.

Gingerbread provides advice and practical support to single parents. Call the free Single Parent Helpline on 0808 802 0925 - information on the opening hours is available here. Please note they are receiving a lot of calls so it may take a long time to connect you. You can also talk with other single parents online on the Gingerbread forum.


The following services require a referral from a health professional. If you feel that you need extra support, talk to your Midwife or Health Visitor.

Baby Steps is a group-based support service for families who need some extra support (referral from a health professional needed). Baby Steps helps mums-to-be and their partners prepare for being a parent.

The Baby Steps team are supporting parents via email, text and telephone to deliver key elements of the Baby Steps programme, as well as supporting women who are feeling very vulnerable in the current climate. The team are still taking new referrals and are making contact with both professional and families - hopefully that means they will also be able to deliver courses as soon as lockdown is lifted.

The Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Midwifery Service provides midwife support to women experiencing serious mental health issues. This means that women can be supported by the same midwife, who has extra training and experience in supporting people with mental health difficulties, throughout their pregnancy. They can also support women experiencing moderate or severe mental health difficulties in the first month after baby is born. The service aims to move away from face-to-face visits unless necessary.

Birth Matters Clinic is run by experienced Midwives who provide additional support to women who have had a difficult or traumatic experience with their labour and birth. At the appointment, the Midwife may help to make a plan and coping strategies for an upcoming birth, or review the birth record and answer questions women may have following delivery. You can be referred to Birth Matters Clinic by your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.

If you are struggling to bond with your baby then you may be referred to the Infant Mental Health Team. This service offers a variety of support to families around building a bond with the baby. Appointments are now taking place by telephone instead of face-to-face. The team continue to accept referrals from healthcare professionals, and are supporting families via telephone or video calls where possible and appropriate.

The Leeds Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Team is a mental health service that supports some women with serious mental health problems in late pregnancy and in the baby's first year. They provide intensive care and support through a team of mental health nurses, psychiatrists and support workers. They run the Yorkshire and Humber Mother and Baby Unit for women with more serious problems who need 24 hour care and support. This is different from a general mental health ward as it means that the baby can stay on the ward with the mother rather than being separated. Watch this video about inpatient care at the Yorkshire and Humber Mother and Baby Unit.

The Mother and Baby Unit has been temporarily relocated from The Mount to Parkside Lodge (see address below) but otherwise is functioning as usual. In addition, the Leeds Perinatal Community Mental Health Service and Outreach teams will also temporarily relocate their base from The Mount to Parkside Lodge to ensure continuity of service.

The Community Team are continuing to provide a service but are using alternatives to face-to-face appointments, where possible. Initial assessments are still continuing to take place and urgent assessments are still taking place within four hours. Assessments will take place face-to-face where required and will take place in the community wherever possible. Group work has stopped, however they are exploring the potential for certain groups to be run remotely.

The contact numbers remain the same. They are:

  • Mother & Baby Unit: 0113 855 5509
  • Outreach Team: 0113 855 5505
  • Leeds Community Perinatal Team: 0113 855 5505

The services are open to referrals from any healthcare professional.

Address: Parkside Lodge, 16 Stanningley Road, Armley, Leeds, LS12 2HE


Leeds websites

https://www.leedsth.nhs.uk/a-z-of-services/leeds-maternity-care/contact-us/

MindWell, the mental health website for people in Leeds, has launched a Coronavirus Mental Health Hub which will act as a 'portal' bringing together information about mental health and Covid-19 for people in Leeds.

MindMate is a Leeds-based website for young people, their families and the professionals who support them. They've created pages with information for young people and parents or carers during the coronavirus outbreak.

Useful resources

NEST Leeds - blog is written by parents and partners in Leeds sharing real life stories of parenthood, as well as their mental health experiences. The blog includes posts from women currently experiencing challenges related to coronavirus and how this is impacting on their pregnancy and planning for the birth. It also includes their personal recommendations for other blogs and social media accounts that others may find helpful at this time.

https://infogram.com/covid-19-you-asked-we-answered-1h9j6qlqlwx52gz - infographic setting out how maternity services are adapting during pandemic including regulations relating to birth partners.

National websites

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/ - Q&A format covering a variety of topics such as antenatal appointments, what to do if diagnosed with Covid-19 whilst pregnant, occupational health advice and more. Also includes videos with advice.

https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/pregnancy-and-coronavirus-information-pregnant-women-and-new-mums - a variety of articles including '8 Ways to manage anxiety in pregnancy during the pandemic'

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