Wigan parents and carers offered mental health support by 'perinatal champion'

Parents and carers of young children in Wigan are being offered free mental healthcare thanks to a new service.

Wigan Psychological Well-being Team has appointed a perinatal champion to provide rapid access to face-to-face mental health help.

Cassie Green offers mental health support to people who are pregnant or caring for very young children, with assistance also available for the partners of people who are pregnant.

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As a new initiative, waiting time is limited and people can expect to be given an appointment within a month. No GP referral is needed.

Perinatal champion Cassie Green
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It is part of Wigan IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), a service which offers mental health support to all adults.

As the perinatal champion, Cassie offers a confidential and non-judgemental space for people to talk about their issues.

Help is available face-to-face or, if preferred, over the phone or online.

Cassie, who works for national adult health and social care charity Making Space, was appointed to the role after receiving specialist training.

She said: “The focus of the perinatal champion is to offer parents and carers of very young children priority mental health therapy.

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“During pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood, people face an increased risk of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, low self-esteem, stress and OCD.

“The perinatal champion offers specialist support both to people who are struggling with their mental health for the first time, and for people who have seen their existing mental health problems exacerbated by pregnancy or parenthood.

“What’s important about the role of perinatal champion is that it connects the whole health and social care team in Wigan who look after people during pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood.

“We want to make sure that everyone is working together to offer the best support possible, from the midwives to the health visitors, GPs and any other professionals who are involved with care, all with the baby or toddler at the centre of our support.”

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A 36-year-old parent from Atherton, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I was struggling after saying goodbye to the midwife who dealt with all three of our children, who are aged between eight months and eight years.

“When the time came to go back to work, I put on a brave face whilst I was silently screaming inside. The thought of leaving my boys, worrying about bonding and general anxiety was unbearable. I experienced emotions I had never dealt with before. I felt so alone, even with the support from my wife and I felt like a failure and could not cope anymore.

“I started group online therapy but this wasn’t for me and I felt alone again. I was then referred to Cassie and she is helping me so much. I have weekly sessions on a Monday. She is pointing me in the right direction to positive thinking and adjusting to the fact that I am not failing and I am certainly not alone, I just needed a little guidance”.

People can access support through their GP or self-refer by emailing [email protected]