DORSET HealthCare has assured new parents that health visiting teams are available to support them if they are struggling with the impacts of coronavirus restrictions and limited support from family.

The message has come at the time of Mental Health Awareness Week, to help people affected by low mood, anxiety or depression which can follow the birth of a child. Post-natal depression affects more than one in 10 women within a year of giving birth and depression can also affect fathers and partners.

Support is still available during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and Dorset HealthCare have urged people to contact their Midwife, Health Visitor or GP if they are struggling.

Shirley Shailer, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Clinical Lead at Dorset HealthCare, said: "Pregnancy, becoming a parent and caring for a new baby is a really exciting and wonderful time, but it can also be a difficult time, with lots of changes and new challenges.

"As parents adjust to these changes, they will often enjoy the help from friends and family, along with support from the midwife, GP and Health Visitor.

"However, in recent weeks it has not been possible for new parents to have contact with family and friends in the same way. There have also been changes to how health appointments are offered and health professionals are now wearing face masks and other protective gear. Understandably, more parents are suffering with anxiety and are feeling isolated.

"I would encourage all parents to talk to their Health Visitor about how they feel. Health Visitors are interested in the emotional health of the whole family, as well as the practical aspects of becoming a parent.

"We are still here and we want to support you, so if you think you may be suffering with mental health problems, don’t delay – please call us."

Dorset HealthCare's health visiting teams are available by phone 9am - 4pm every day.

For more details on your local team and for other information for families during the coronavirus pandemic, visits the Dorset HealthCare website.