Mental health support ‘is lacking’ for new mothers

The wellbeing of more than one in 10 newborns in England could be improved if new mothers with mental illness had equal access to support, according to an NSPCC report published today (17 June).
The charity is calling on health ministers to lead a drive to address major gaps in access to mental health services for pregnant women and new mothers.
The report, entitled Prevention in mind – All babies count: Spotlight on perinatal mental health, describes how a lack of focus on mother’s mental health has led to a ‘postcode lottery’ for families.It highlights evidence that less than half of mental health trusts have specialist mental health services for expectant and new mums.

While it notes that there are good examples of mother and baby units that are providing families with expert care and support, the report says that in huge areas of the country, women have no access to a unit.

In these areas some mothers do not get the right help and can be separated from their babies, it adds.

The NSPCC is calling for a step change so that the mental health of mothers and babies is given the same importance as physical health.

It is also calling on the DH to lead work to fill gaps in services, which could in turn save the lives of mothers and babies.

Peter Wanless, chief executive officer of the NSPCC, said: ‘This report clearly shows that with the right services, it is possible to prevent the harm caused by maternal mental illness. But opportunities to help many more families are being missed.

He added: ‘Pregnancy and the first months of a child’s life are critical for their future wellbeing and parents naturally play a vital role.

‘If the government is serious about giving every child the best start in life it must take action to fill the gaps in services.’

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the RCM, said: ‘There is a real and pressing need to detect and improve the care for pregnant women with mental health problems, throughout their pregnancy and after the birth in particular.

‘However, this is going to be very difficult to do without the right number of midwives to cope with the rising demand on maternity services, and the right specialist help for these women.’

She added: ‘The government has said that this is a high priority area and we need to see that commitment turn into better services for women.’

Previous research by the NSPCC has shown that over 120,000 under ones are living with a parent who has a mental health problem.

The charity is running a range of services in locations across the UK to support new mothers. Please click here for further information.

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#RT via Matthew via


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