Time for Action on Perinatal Mental Health Care
10% of women in Northern Ireland (around 2,400 mothers) will suffer from post-natal depression. This increases to 40% for mothers of premature babies. However a failure to invest in mental health services for new and expectant mothers could leave many women without the necessary support a new report has found.
Research by NSPCC NI, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) shows that mental health issues in the period before and after birth (perinatal) is a common problem. Problems include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and postpartum psychosis. If perinatal mental health conditions are left untreated it can have devastating consequences for women and their families.
The report has highlighted gaps in both the identification of these illnesses and the response once diagnosed. Midwives and health visitors who took part in the research stressed that continuity of care and face-to-face time with mothers and babies was crucial.
However, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK not to sufficiently fund perinatal mental health care. Specialist provision is a postcode lottery with only the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust providing such a service on a small scale.
The report makes a number of recommendations including the introduction of a training standard for all professionals who work with women on perinatal mental illness, working to ensure face-to-face time and continuity of care within midwifery and health visiting services and the provision of specialist services in every Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.
You can read the Time for Action report here: