Shocking gaps in maternal mental health services

Tuesday, 08 July 2014 Mind

Pregnant women and new mothers across almost half of the UK do not have access to specialist perinatal mental health services, potentially leaving them and their babies at risk, according to data released today.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance, of which Mind is a member, has developed a map that highlights the gaps in provision of services across the UK. The Alliance has launched a campaign, #everyonesbusiness, calling for improvements to services and will soon be publishing information and tools via a dedicated website to help health services provide the right support.

More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby.

Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said:
“The figures released today are an embarrassment for the NHS. Pregnancy and the first postnatal year are a critical time, with multiple pressures, demands and responsibilities, when women and their families should receive the best quality care. Specialist perinatal mental health services have the expertise to treat illnesses that particularly affect new mothers, and understand how to minimise the impact of mental illness on the woman’s pregnancy or developing baby. Yet in almost half of the UK women still have no access to community specialist perinatal mental health services. We would be horrified if there were no maternity hospitals, and general surgeons were doing caesarean sections in large parts of the country. Equitable access to specialist care for women’s mental health at this time is just as important and the NHS has a responsibility to ensure that this is available.”

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