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Experiences of women with autistic spectrum condition accessing the Brighton and Hove Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service

Ollie Pentz (Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK)
Jennifer Cooke (Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Worthing, UK)
Harriet Sharp (Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 7 April 2023

Issue publication date: 15 August 2023

136

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to describe the experiences and barriers to care for women with autistic spectrum condition (ASC) under the care of the Brighton and Hove Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service (BHSPMHS) and provide recommendations to improve the service.

Design/methodology/approach

Patients with an ASC diagnosis or suspected diagnosis and awaiting assessment under the care of BHSPMHS were offered to take part in the study. Five patients were interviewed to explore their experiences.

Findings

Participants had a mix of positive and negative experiences of services. Positives included the continuous support and allowing flexibility around appointments. Dialectical behavioural therapy groups running online instead of in-person was highlighted as a universal negative as well as delays in diagnosing ASC.

Practical implications

Those likely to meet the criteria for ASC but are awaiting formal diagnosis should be treated with appropriate adjustments to service provision as those who have received a diagnosis. Recommendations for service improvements include the provision of smaller, in-person therapy groups. Adjustments to treatments may include flexibility around appointment times and location.

Originality/value

There is little research into the experiences of people with ASC under the care of perinatal mental health teams. As specialist perinatal services expand, it is important to understand the experiences of women with ASC being cared for by these services, to ensure they are accessible and inclusive. The results of this study will be used to guide service development and act as a model for other services, with the intention of improving care for this patient group.

Keywords

Citation

Pentz, O., Cooke, J. and Sharp, H. (2023), "Experiences of women with autistic spectrum condition accessing the Brighton and Hove Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 233-241. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-08-2022-0056

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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