Northern Ireland approves funding for new specialist perinatal mental health service

The “very much needed” service will provide new multi-disciplinary community perinatal mental health teams in each of the five Trust areas, says the Department of Health.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that funding for the development of a new specialist perinatal mental health service has been approved.

The new service will provide new multi-disciplinary community perinatal mental health and will include a new stepped care model in an attempt to provide regional consistency, at an estimated cost of around £4.7 million per year.

Currently, mental health support for new or expectant mothers is provided in the through community general mental health facilities, with only the Belfast Trust providing limited specialist perinatal services for the entire region.

Perinatal mental health community teams will aim to provide wrap around maternity and mental health care to women in the perinatal period experiencing mental health difficulties.

In a statement, the Department of Health said that women in the perinatal period were “particularly vulnerable” during the pandemic which meant that “investment in this important Mental Health service is very much needed and welcomed.”

Mr Swann spoke of his delight at the funding approval and that new and expectant mothers would “have access to the best possible mental health care and the new service will ensure the best health outcomes for both them and their infants.”

“My officials have been working closely with the Public Health Agency to finalise a business case for specialist community perinatal mental health services and I am delighted to approve this much needed service that for too long, women in Northern Ireland have gone without,” the Health Minister added.

Lindsay Robinson, Maternal Mental Health Campaigner and founder of ‘Have You Seen That Girl?’ called the announcement “a momentous day.”

“As a mum with lived experience of perinatal mental illness, I am absolutely thrilled and very relieved that these specialist perinatal services will finally be made available here,” Robinson added.

“Campaigning for these services, for the last five years, and now knowing they will be delivered, brings me (and so many other mums) so much joy.

“Some of the darkest and most difficult days of my life would have been transformed had access to these been available, I know personally the difference they can and will make for mums, infants and families.”

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