Pregnant women and new mothers with serious mental illnesses will be able to access community perinatal mental health support in 20 sites in England, after NHS England announced a £40 million investment into perinatal mental health services.
The investment will help 30,000 more women a year by 2021. A further £20 million will be provided in 2017/18. The funding will be used to create or expand perinatal mental health teams to provide specialist care for all mothers in need of support. The new teams will hire a range of specialist nurses, psychologists and nursery nurses as well as funding community peer support for mums, babies and families.
Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said that the happy occasion of having a baby was often ‘sadly overshadowed by severe pregnancy-related mental health problems' for tens of thousands of new mothers.
The teams are designed to care for women with conditions such as schizophrenia or psychosis while they are pregnant or after giving birth. Staff will be able to give information on available services, provide lifestyle advice, counselling support, or promote hope and recovery after an inpatient stay. They also manage women who are at high risk of developing serious illness both at home and in the maternity unit during pregnancy.
'New and expectant mums suffering perinatal mental illness are among those groups who need our help immediately,' said Claire Farmer, national mental health director at NHS England. 'With effective, compassionate care people can have much better health outcomes and get on with their lives.'
One in five women experience depression, anxiety or in some cases psychosis during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth and costs of perinatal mental ill health are estimated at £8.1 billion each year in the UK, almost £10,000 per birth