In recent years, perinatal mental health has been recognised as a major public health concern. Many researchers and healthcare professionals have highlighted the impact of mental health problems during the perinatal period and the need for more support to new mums and their families.
The perinatal period extends from when pregnancy begins right up until the first year after the baby is born and people will no doubt be more familiar with the term, postnatal depression. Despite the fact that this now affects one in seven women, very little is still being done about it.
An incredible 73% of maternity services in the UK don’t have a specialist mental health midwife, 64% of PCTs don’t have perinatal mental health strategy and 50% of mental health trusts don’t have a perinatal mental health service with a specialist psychiatrist.
Other challenges that face new mums include the fact that even when they can access healthcare professionals, they often don’t have the necessary knowledge to offer help, support or treatment. 29% of midwives say that they didn’t receive any information about mental health in their pre-registration training and 42% of GPs say that they lack knowledge about specialist services for people with severe mental illnesses.
Furthermore, despite the fact that nearly all women see a midwife during pregnancy, 40% say that they saw a different midwife at every appointment. This makes it very difficult for any healthcare professional to pick up on whether or not there might be any mental health conditions. 41% of women questioned also said that they were never even asked about depression at any stage during or after their pregnancy.
If you think that you or someone you know could be suffering with postnatal depression, please feel free to visit our Postnatal Knowledge Centre for more information and advice. You can also contact us for help and treatment.