Parent and baby wellness

Mental health support for new and expectant parents 

Our Liverpool-based PSS Parent and Baby Wellness service helps parents-to-be and parents of babies up to two years of age form stronger bonds and positive relationships with their baby.

We can provide support with any emotional difficulties associated with parenting that families may be experiencing, including postnatal depression and birth trauma.

We do this by working closely with families and with other professionals who support families with babies, such as GPs, midwives, health visitors, Children’s Centres, family nurse partnerships, peri-natal mental health teams and many others.

How can we support you?

Parent and baby mental health consultations in Liverpool

We have an experienced and specialist team who are experts in parent and baby mental health. Anyone is welcome to contact our team to discuss concerns about a parent’s relationship with their bump or infant. At this time our team will talk to you about the relationships that exist in the family and the various things that may have a negative effect on those relationships. This might include a parent’s emotional state and/or beliefs, their baby’s development needs and/or the family’s general circumstances. We’ll aim to agree a plan with other professionals about how to proceed, defining actions, responsibilities and timelines.

Postnatal/antenatal depression service

If you think that a mum or dad is suffering with postnatal/antenatal depression, we have a home-visiting service that can help. Our specialist practitioners will work with parents to build their confidence and esteem and promote whole-family wellness.

Parent-baby therapy for families 

We work closely with families, focusing wholly on the parent-baby relationship. We offer a variety of individual and group approaches to support the development of a sensitive bond from parent to baby, and a secure attachment from baby to parent. These approaches will be tailored to the families we work with. The frequency and intensity of this work will differ depending on the family’s situation, needs and wishes. Therapeutic support can only be offered after careful consideration of the family’s situation (usually after consultation).

Infant mental health training and family relationships training

We offer a range of training opportunities for professionals. This is usually free for practitioners in Liverpool and allows us to develop a shared language, share our skills and experiences and understand more deeply when and how interventions work.

We provide training in:

  • Infant mental health
  • Relationships in families with babies (up to aged two)
  • Family relationships with professionals

The benefits of using our Parent and Baby Wellness service

  • We’ve got a great team of parent-baby relationship experts who are specially trained to help support families experiencing difficulties in forming and maintaining a bond with their baby.
  • Our service is supervised by a clinical psychologist.
  • Our impact reporting clearly demonstrates that increased training and awareness among professionals results in early identification and quicker diagnosis; resulting in reduced levels of health and social care needs as well as improved quality of life.
  • We offer one-to-one support and home visits to parents suffering from postnatal depression.
  • Parents are able to regulate their own emotions as well as those of their baby and they are more confident in their journey as a family.
  • We offer support in group environments so that parents don’t feel so alone and benefit from sharing their thoughts and feelings with others experiencing the same things.

If you have strong concerns about a parent’s mental health or the safety of a child

Please note the following guidelines when dealing with severe concerns relating to either the mental health of a parent or the safety of a child:

  • Parents with significant mental health problems (or mental illness) should still be referred to the peri-natal mental health team at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital or Merseycare (depending on the age of the child).
  • Parents with mild/moderate psychological or emotional difficulties can be referred to the ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ service (via their GP).
  • Where there are concerns about the safety of a baby or adult, please contact Careline.
  • In the first instance, concerns about a child’s development or behaviours may be directed to the Community Paediatricians or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at Alder Hey.
  • Women with a diagnosis of postnatal depression should still be referred to our service, which can be reached on 0151 702 5533.

Success stories

Shelley’s story

Shelley is 24 and a married mum of two. She was referred to our Parent and Baby Wellness service by her GP. Since giving birth she has been feeling very anxious and negative, and was prescribed anti-anxiety medication by her doctor. We went to visit Shelley at home, and she completed a Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) questionnaire, which confirmed that Shelley had severe anxiety (a HADS score of 20) and mild depression (a HADS score of 10).

Shelley made very positive early progress following her first one-to-one session with one of our team.  They discussed the reasons for becoming anxious, how the body deals with it and some simple breathing techniques to help her cope. Shelley was also encouraged to keep a log of her achievements called a ‘diary of victories’- even the small ones which she can review and feel positive about. Over the next few visits, Shelley made good progress but also had a small relapse. At this point she was encouraged to set small and achievable goals, and was given a DVD on postnatal depression to emphasise just how common the problem is, and how she needs to be more compassionate with herself.

In the following months Shelley made excellent progress; she began visiting friends more, she addressed some long-standing issues with her mum, and began to prepare for her return to work. At the end of the intervention, Shelley’s HADS anxiety score had reduced from 20 to 11, and her depressions score from 10 to 4 – a wonderful achievement that Shelley should be so proud of. By the final visit, Shelley had begun to socialise a lot more and was focussing on her strengths and achievements – and less on her weaknesses.

Jane’s story 

Jane is a doctor based in Liverpool who developed severe postnatal depression following the birth of her first child, and as a result, suffered difficulty in bonding with her daughter.

After she was referred to our Parent and Baby Wellness service, we provided weekly sessions with a clinical psychologist in her own home. Jane said this was one of the best bits about the service. She said: ‘When you suffer with depression it’s difficult to find the motivation, energy and organisation to get to appointments. This is even more difficult with a small baby’, expressing how happy she was to have been able to receive support without putting herself through having to leave the house. We also scheduled late sessions every other week to enable Jane’s husband Tim to join in, emphasising that it was a problem facing the family together. We encouraged Tim to understand what Jane was going through and supported him to talk about things.

Even more positively about having sessions at home in this way was that Jane didn’t have to leave her daughter in childcare, or stop breastfeeding, because the nature of the service is to work with both parents and children to explore their relationship. Using the KIPS approach and video feedback, the service videoed Jane playing with her daughter and then played it back to her to help her see the things she was doing well. ‘This was vital for me’, Jane told us. ‘I felt like I was failing and a bad mother because of my illness, but PSS were able to give me confidence and help me to improve things further.’ When she felt ready, Jane came along to some of our group sessions, which showed her that she wasn’t alone – and that many other mums and dads were facing the same challenges as she was.

Jane has made huge advances since we supported her, and has told us how much she appreciates that ours is an open-ended, longer-term service, unlike the alternative six-week course of CBT which could also have been offered. Having the time to review her own experiences, and doing this together with her family and the others in the group, has given her space to make the most of their input, rather than feel pressured by a countdown. The individual focus of the service was hugely valued by Jane rather than a ‘one-size fits all’ approach.

Making a referral to PSS Parent and Baby Wellness

We’re able to support parents experiencing emotional difficulties from pregnancy through to when the child is two years old. Our Parent and Baby Wellness Service doesn’t replace the services that already exist for families with babies. We work alongside and in partnership with organisations across Liverpool on an ongoing basis.

To refer someone into our service or to arrange a consultation, please get in touch with us: 0151 702 5555.