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  • Writer's pictureJulie Lee

Record Numbers of Women Accessing Perinatal Mental Health Support


maternal mental health, perinatal mental health
Record Numbers of Women Accessing Perinatal Mental Health Support

A Surge in Support for New and Expectant Mums

According to NHS England, the past year has seen a remarkable increase in the number of new and expectant mothers receiving specialist mental health support. Over 57,000 women have accessed these vital services, marking a 33% rise compared to 2022.


Comprehensive Mental Health Care Across England

Thanks to the NHS Long Term Plan, every region in England now benefits from dedicated mental health teams. These experts offer support to women facing moderate to severe or complex mental health challenges, focusing not only on their well-being but also on nurturing the bond between parent and baby.


New mothers are guaranteed a thorough mental and physical health check within six weeks of giving birth, conducted by their GP. For those needing more specialised care, referrals can be made to one of nearly 40 Maternal Mental Health Services across England. These services are staffed by professionals such as psychologists and midwives who address a range of issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder from birth trauma, perinatal loss, and severe fear of childbirth.


Addressing a Growing Need

Statistics show that more than 57,000 women received support between March 2023 and February 2024, compared to 43,053 the previous year. With around 600,000 births in England annually, research indicates that perinatal mental illness affects up to one in five new and expectant mothers, encompassing a wide variety of conditions. If left untreated, these mental health issues can have long-lasting impacts on the mother, child, and wider family.


Encouragement from Health Leaders

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s National Mental Health Director, emphasises the importance of seeking help: “Becoming a new mum is incredibly special but can also be stressful and overwhelming. The NHS is here to support those struggling with mental health difficulties such as post-traumatic stress or severe depression.”


Personal Stories and Professional Insights

Megan Rutter, who benefited from the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service, shared her experience: “I was significantly unwell with my mental health after my baby’s birth. The exemplary care I received allowed me to make long-standing changes. Now, as a Peer Support Worker, I use my experience to help other mums feel seen and heard.”


Madeline Warwick, a Specialist Occupational Therapist, highlighted the importance of recognising symptoms early: “If you or someone close to you is struggling with mental health during pregnancy or after childbirth, talk to your GP, Midwife, or Health Visitor. 83% of women accessing our service reported significant improvements in their mental health.”


Commitment from Healthcare Authorities

Health Minister Maria Caulfield expressed pride in the progress made: “We are committed to ensuring that tailored mental health services are available to every new mother who needs them, regardless of location. The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan and increased spending on mental health support these ambitions.”


Ongoing Improvements and Future Goals

The NHS is continually enhancing its perinatal mental health services. The Long Term Plan includes increasing the availability of specialist care up to 24 months after birth, improving access to psychological therapies, and providing mental health checks for partners of those accessing perinatal services.


Dr. Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and a spokesperson for the Royal College of Midwives, both emphasise the importance of continued focus on equitable access to mental health support and the need for ongoing recruitment and retention of midwifery staff to meet growing demand.


A Call to Action

England’s most senior mental health nurse encourages new or expectant mums struggling with their mental health to seek support. With dedicated teams and a wide range of services available, the NHS is well-equipped to provide the help needed during this critical time. If you are pregnant or have given birth in the last two years and are experiencing mental health challenges, please reach out to your GP for support.


If you are looking for help and support with perinatal mental health outside of the NHS, get in touch via my website: www.julieleetherapy.org


Julie

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