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New mothers should be offered mental health appointments

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Maternal mental health is often overlooked Maternal mental health is often overlooked

New mothers should be offered a routine general practice appointment to assess their mental health, NICE has said.

According to draft guidance by the organisation some symptoms of mental health conditions, such as changes to appetite or sleeping patterns, can be conceal by perceptions of what is normal for pregnant and postnatal women to experience. The guidance suggests that women should be offered an appointment at the six-week stage to evaluate whether any support is needed.

‘General practice plays a vital role in helping vulnerable people to get the correct diagnosis and the support they need,’ said Andrew Black, deputy chair of the NICE indicator advisory committee.

It is estimated that one in eight women experience anxiety or depression while pregnant, and up to one in five do during the first year after childbirth. NICE also states that that clinical commissioning groups should record how many women with a suspected mental health condition during pregnancy or the postnatal period receive a mental health assessment.

NICE is holding a consultation on the draft guidance that will run until 8 March. ‘I would strongly encourage everyone with an interest in the development of evidence-based indicators to tell us their views,’ said Professor Daniel Keenan, chair of the NICE indicator advisory committee.

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