Maternal Mental Health Week: New Mums Urged to Respond to Mental Health Call for Evidence

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Marking Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, new mums are being urged to share their views on how the NHS should adapt for the future to better support parents, particularly those who have experienced baby loss.

The government are taking action to improve mental health support for new parents and are encouraging mums to respond to call for evidence.

Mums’ experiences will inform a new 10-year mental health plan to level up mental health across the country, tackle disparities in healthcare and help clear the Covid backlog. The plan will build on current progress, assessing how local services can prevent mental ill health and better support new parents.

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There are a number of reasons why new mums may need to access maternal support. Postpartum depression is a common problem affecting more than one in every 10 women within a year of giving birth and can also affect fathers and partners.

It is also estimated that in the UK, one in four pregnancies end in loss during pregnancy or birth, which is why it is crucial these specialist services are supporting people quickly and in the best possible way.

Through the NHS Long Term Plan, the NHS is continuing to transform specialist perinatal mental health services to ensure that all women are able to access care if they need to. This includes a commitment to develop and implement maternal mental health services in every area of the country by 2023/24 to level up healthcare and reduce disparities.

Mother and baby units across the country provide in-patient care for women with mental health problems during pregnancy, or after the birth of their child. They are designed to keep mothers and their babies together, to nurture and support the mother infant relationship on the ward at the same time as the mother has treatment for her mental illness.

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Laura Seebohm, Chief Executive of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said: “At the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, the voice of lived experience has been essential to driving change and improving support for women and families.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for new and expectant mums and parents to be heard and continue to influence the future of perinatal mental healthcare. Maternal mental health problems can be devastating for women and families and the right support at the right time is crucial. We urge anyone who has been impacted during and/or after pregnancy to have their say.”

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The mental health call for evidence launched last month will build on this progress, improving understanding of the causes of mental ill-health, listening to people who have interacted with services and those who know and support them, to draw on what works. This will help develop a plan which aims to promote positive mental wellbeing and prevent mental health problems from escalating, including for pregnant women.

Helping to prevent mental health problems from escalating will reduce pressure on NHS mental health provision, which will contribute to clearing the covid backlogs.

Minister for Mental Health, Gillian Keegan, said: “It’s crucial new parents’ mental health is properly supported and our services are meeting their needs.

“I encourage everyone, especially new mums and dads and those with lived experience of baby loss or postnatal depression to respond to our call for evidence – it’s imperative our new plan has your voice at the centre and our mental health services work for anyone who needs to access them.”

Minister for Women’s Health, Maria Caulfield, said: “Being a new mum can be overwhelming and looking after your mental health is paramount to ensuring you and your baby get the best start.

“Supporting new and expectant mothers is a key priority for me and I encourage all women to respond to the call for evidence to make sure your views on maternal mental health care are reflected in the plan.”

The call for evidence is open for 12 weeks and closes on 7 July.

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