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New mental health support service for pregnant women and new parents in Ealing

Ealing residents along with those in Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham are to be supported by a new service that provides 24/7 text help to pregnant women and new parents who are experiencing mental health problems.

Launched by West London NHS Trust during this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week, the project which is being delivered by the NHS, charity SHOUT and Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) aims to help people get the support they need early.

Dr Sarah Taha, consultant perinatal psychiatrist and clinical lead at the Trust’s perinatal mental health services said: “During pregnancy and the postnatal period, one in five birthing people encounter mental health challenges.”

According to the Trust, pregnant women, new parents with babies and toddlers up to the age of two, and those who have experienced baby loss, or pregnancy loss can text the word HUG to 85258 when they need help.

Dr Taha added: “The HUG text messaging service will be instrumental in spreading awareness of the help available. It will provide a confidential, non-judgmental platform that’s easily accessible and guides individuals to mental health resources in our community, including the West London Perinatal Mental Health and Maternity Trauma and Loss Care Services. This support during such a crucial time will empower individuals to seek help early, leading to improved outcomes for families.”

The pilot will initially run for two years, and is supported by the RCPsych, which is providing specialist training for the Shout volunteers handling and responding to the text requests.

The Trust says when a person texts HUG to 85258, their text will go through to specially trained volunteers, who are supervised and supported in real time by an expert clinical team.

Dr Taha said: “These volunteers will offer real-time support to people who are anxious, stressed, depressed, suicidal or overwhelmed and need immediate support, and where needed, signposting to further resources or services so they can get longer-term support.”

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