New and expectant mothers in England will have more easy access to more support with mental health issues within the next year, as the NHS attempts to curb the problems of pre- and post-natal depression.
Underserved parts of the country will benefit from an additional £20m in mental health services spending, which builds on £40m of funding committed in 2016. Former Prime Minister David Cameron and, more recently, Teresa May have both pledged their commitment to improve the help offered to mothers.
Statistics show that one in five women will experience a perinatal (relating to the time – usually a number of weeks – immediately before and after birth) mental health problem. Of these issues, depression or anxiety is the most common, but perinatal problems include a wide range of conditions.
The NHS says that perinatal mental health problems, if left untreated, can have significant and long-lasting effects on both the woman and her family. Furthermore, they can have long-standing effects on children’s emotional, social and cognitive development.
However, up until as recently as 2014, mental health support services for new and expectant mothers were extremely patchy in England, with only 3% of the country deemed to offer good access to care.
In 2016, NHS England announced that £40m would be spent on more nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists so that mothers and families both in the home and in maternity units could benefit from extra help. These teams can also comprise social workers, occupational therapists, and nursery nurses.
Expanded Mental Health Services Having An Impact Already
So far, the new and expanded mental health services are thought to have helped more than 7,000 women.
Health service bosses say the release of a further £23m in funding should mean that new and expectant mothers across the whole of England are able to access specialist care and support by April next year.
Claire Murdoch, national mental health director for NHS England, warned that mental health issues do not discriminate.
“It can happen to anyone at any time and it disrupts life not just for mums but the whole family, which is why we are absolutely committed to driving forward improvements in care and ensuring this important area of mental health continues to get the attention it deserves.
“What we are now starting to see is evidence-based NHS services growing in parts of the country where there used to be limited or no provision at all.”
Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet, echoed these sentiments by saying the new funding will benefit and make a big difference to many women.
“Mumsnet’s campaign for Better Postnatal Care has highlighted the breadth of perinatal mental health vulnerabilities and has shown how many women struggle on with symptoms that make them feel miserable – or worse.
“Extra provision in this crucial area is so important and we hope it makes a real difference in supporting pregnant women and new mothers,” she said.
I joined Premier Choice Group as a Healthcare & Protection Consultant in 2017, where I now look after the needs of over 200 clients nationwide. Prior to joining the Premier Choice Group, I worked for a large Private Healthcare Insurer, VitalityHealth, and managed SME and Individual clients across the country.