New and expectant mothers across the country can now access specialist mental health care in the area where they live, NHS England has announced.
The rollout of specialist perinatal community services across the whole of England, means that mothers and mothers who are experiencing anxiety, depression or other forms of mental ill health should be able to access high quality care much closer to home.
‘Mental ill health during pregnancy or that affects bonding with a new baby can be devastating, which is why the NHS has invested in better care for expectant and new mums, with at least 9000 extra women getting treatment last year,’ said Claire Murdoch, NHS national mental health director.
‘As well as expanding access to world-leading talking therapy for anyone who needs it – the NHS Long Term Plan is further ramping up specialist perinatal care for every part of the country, offering tailored support to dads and partners and extending care to cover the first two years of a child’s life.”
According to NHS England, five years ago two in five parts of the country had no access to specialist community perinatal mental health treatment, but there is now full geographical coverage for the first time, with services in every one of the 44 local NHS areas, and plans to develop them further.
The expansion comes alongside the opening of four new mother and baby units, which mean that the most seriously ill women can receive residential care without being separated from their babies in every region.
‘This is fantastic news for all new and expectant mums, and for their families. 1 in 5 new mothers will experience some form of mental health difficulty and if left untreated, perinatal mental health problems can be devastating,’ said Dr Trudi Seneviratne, chair of the perinatal faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
‘A previous lack of specialist services has not only meant that some women couldn’t access the treatment they needed, but it also lead to mothers and babies often being separated at a key time in their child’s development. Providing everyone with access to the right care in the right place has always been our hope, and it’s now finally being realised in England. Hopefully this will cause a tipping point for other nations too.We now need to focus on building the perinatal mental health workforce whose job it will be to deliver these vital services.’