New dedicated mental health services for new expectant and bereaved mums
NHS England says new, expectant or bereaved mothers will receive help and support for mental health problems through dozens of new dedicated hubs being set up across the country.
NHS England has announced new dedicated mental health services for new expectant and bereaved mums, bringing together maternity services, reproductive health and psychological therapy as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Around 6,000 women will receive care and treatment at 26 new hubs for a wide range of mental health issues from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after giving birth to others with a severe fear of childbirth.
As well as offering psychological therapies for new and expectant mums the clinics will also provide training for maternity staff and midwives.
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, said every woman’s experience with pregnancy and motherhood was “unique” and that some will need extra support to cope with mental health issues that can range from anxiety to severe depression.
“The NHS is here for everyone who needs help and the expansion of specialist care through the roll out of these maternal mental health services will strengthen the services already in place, enabling us to improve the quality of care and outcomes for many women,” Ms. Murdoch said.
It is estimated that it costs the NHS and social care sector £1.2 billion per year where women do not access high-quality perinatal mental health services.
Five years ago, 40% of the country had no access to specialist perinatal mental health care. However, specialist community perinatal mental health services are now available in each of the 44 local NHS areas and over 30,000 women were seen in specialist perinatal mental health community services, figures for 2019/20 show.
Dr Giles Berrisford, NHS England’s National Speciality Advisor for Perinatal Mental Health, said around one in four women experience mental health problems in pregnancy, and the maternal mental health services will provide “vital support” during the 24 months after giving birth.
“Their establishment will significantly contribute to the overall commitment of the NHS to enable at least 66,000 women with moderate to severe mental health difficulties related motherhood to access specialist care by 2023/24.”
Around 6,000 women are expected to receive care as part of the pilots by the end of 2021/22. The work undertaken by these sites will be vital to efforts to further scale up these services across the country.
The NHS says ten sites will be up and running “within months” with the remainder opening by April 2022.
Every area will have one by April 2024 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to increase access to psychological support for women before, during and after pregnancy.
The announcement of the new hubs comes just weeks after the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) found that COVID-19 has posed “unequal” mental health challenges for women during pregnancy and early motherhood in a rapid evidence review.
Emily Slater, CEO of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, welcomed the announcement of the new hubs.
“For the more than 1 in 10 expectant and new mothers experiencing mental health problems, and the increased numbers as a result of the pandemic, there needs to be a system of care available to support them. These new services will enable more women than ever to access vital perinatal mental health care.
“The MMHA is keen to see training for all staff who interact with women and their families in the perinatal period, so we also welcome the role these services will play in upskilling the maternity workforce, alongside providing much-needed support.”
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