This briefing was commissioned by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance who are dedicated to ensuring all women, babies and their families across the UK have access to compassionate care and high-quality support for their mental health during pregnancy and after birth. One woman in five experiences a mental health problem during pregnancy or after they have given birth. Maternal mental health problems can have a devastating impact on the women affected and their families.
NICE guidance states that perinatal mental health problems always require a speedy and effective response, including rapid access to psychological therapies when they are needed. Integrated care systems (ICSs) have a unique opportunity to ensure that all women who need support for their mental health during the perinatal period get the right level of help at the right time, close to home.
- Maternal mental health problems are common and can be extremely serious. Timely access to effective help can make a big difference to long-term health outcomes for mothers and generations to come
- Integrated care systems can ensure that comprehensive and evidence-based support is provided to women and birthing people during the perinatal period
- Maternal mental health care must be developed equitably, adapting to the needs of groups of women with higher risk and poorer access to effective support
- Universal services – midwifery, general practice, and health visiting – are vital to identify needs and provide timely support
- Access to NHS Talking Therapies is essential for women with many diagnosable mental health difficulties during the perinatal period
- Specialist community perinatal mental health services are a priority for the NHS Long Term Plan and can meet the needs of women with more serious and complex conditions
- Adequate provision of specialist Mother and Baby Inpatient Units prevents women being separated from their babies if they need to be admitted to hospital
- The voluntary sector, including peer support, plays a vital role and needs to be commissioned and properly funded