National infant mental health week: 12-16 June

This week, 200 organisations will come together to highlight infant mental health week. The theme of the week is ‘Begin Before Birth’, which emphasises supporting a healthy pregnancy experience for expectant parents as a key opportunity to ensuring the best possible start in life for every child.

By the time a child turns three years old, the foundations for all learning and relationships will have been formed, with their brain development during this time critical to future success at school and in life. The 2.4 million babies who will be born in the UK before 2020 represent our future leaders, thinkers and innovators – it is vitally important we give them strong foundations right from the start, with everyday physical and emotional experiences they have with parents, families, caregivers and communities contributing a crucial part of those foundations.

Key areas of pregnancy which continue to require future support are supporting the relationship between couples, improved antenatal assessment and classes and improved workplace culture.

Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, says: “The Maternal Mental Health Alliance welcomes the focus on pregnancy for this year’s Infant Mental Health Awareness Week. It is so important for us all to understand the sensitivity of the baby, both during pregnancy and after, to relationships in the family and to the mother’s mental wellbeing.”

Further information can be found on the web and social media pages below.


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Video Interaction Guidance in a Nutshell

VIG blog

Hilary Kennedy is an Educational Psychologist, Honorary Senior Lecturer UCL and AVIGuk National Trainer and Supervisor. She is a key developer of Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) in the UK and is involved in supporting research in the effectiveness of VIG as an intervention.


The recent MABIM ‘introduction to Video Interaction Guidance (VIG)’ seminar explored the value of VIG in supporting mums and babies where perinatal mental illness existed.  In this blog, Hilary explains the intervention and how widely it can be used to support the parent-infant relationship. Continue reading Video Interaction Guidance in a Nutshell

Invitation to tender – perinatal mental health peer support

Comic Relief, in partnership with the MMHA, are currently undertaking a tender process to commission the development of a set of quality assurance principles for peer support in perinatal mental health. This forms part of Comic Relief’s Maternal Mental Health Strategy.

We are interested in bids from individuals or organisations and from partnerships of interested bodies who can demonstrate expertise and experience of quality assurance theory and concepts and their application in voluntary and community sector environments.. The link to the invitation to tender can be found here, and the deadline for applications is 5 July 2017.

We hope that the development of bespoke Quality Assurance principles will assure the quality and consistency of online and face-to-face peer support in perinatal mental health. They will also form a key part of wider work to ensure such peer support is safe, accessible to all, high quality, evidence-based, trusted by clinical services and achieves maximum impact. We envision that the development of these principles will be delivered by 2018.

Download the invitation to tender

Please forward your application, or any questions regarding the tender, to Inés Meza-Mitcher, Membership and Communications Assistant for the MMHA (




Tackling stigma around perinatal mental illness

By Professor Jane Melton, Director of Engagement and Integration with 2gether NHS Foundation TrustGloucestershire

Mums and Babies in Mind is working in Gloucestershire to support local leaders to improve perinatal mental health services. We asked Jane Melton about the campaign they have developed to help tackle stigma around perinatal mental illness.  Continue reading Tackling stigma around perinatal mental illness

Organisations unite for Maternal Mental Health

May was an important month for raising awareness of perinatal mental health issues: the UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week ran from 1-7 May and World Maternal Mental Health Day took place on 3 May.

It was the first year the UK ran a week of awareness-raising for maternal mental health. Led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, organisations joined forces  to share how and where mums and their families could seek help and support for perinatal mental health issues. Events, conferences and mini-campaigns took place up and down the country over the course of the week and those participating on social media used the hashtag #maternalMHmatters to join the conversation.

Continue reading Organisations unite for Maternal Mental Health

Global organisations join forces to show that Maternal Mental Health Matters

Global organisations are joining together today, 3 May, on World Maternal Mental Health Day to show that maternal mental health should be a priority.

In many countries, as many as 1 in 5 new mothers experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMADs) and estimates are that 7 in 10 women hide or downplay their symptoms. Without understanding, support and treatment these mental illnesses have a devastating impact on the women affected and on their partners and families.

2016 was the inaugural World Maternal Mental Health Day, started by an international task force. The campaign continues this year and aims to raise awareness of, influence policy on and change attitudes towards maternal mental health.

To get involved in this year’s World Maternal Mental Health Day:

> Visit

> Join the global partners (currently 73)

> Add a Twibbon to your Twitter profile

> Download the infographic on maternal mental health available in a variety of languages

> Tweet and post on Facebook using #maternalMHmatters

> If you are running an event for World Maternal Mental Health Day, register it alongside the other global events

What is happening in the UK on World Maternal Mental Health Day?

This week (1-7 May) is also the UK’s first Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week, led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHPUK). On 3 May PMHPUK will be encouraging the creation of a virtual positivity pot for people to ‘dip into’ on social media. This pot will include quotes from mums about what has helped them during their recovery and will use the hashtag #perinatalpositivitypot. Follow @PMHPUK on Twitter and visit the Facebook page to join in.

UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week 1-7 May

Last year was the inaugural World Maternal Mental Health day in May 2016. This year, as well as World Maternal Mental Health day on 3rd May there will be a UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week 1-7th May.


How and where mums and families can seek help and support for perinatal mental health problems

Lead Organisation:

Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP)

Key messages:

Maternal mental health matters. #maternalMHmatters. Women and their family and friends need to know where they can find help and support for perinatal mental health problems.

How you can get involved

  • During the week highlight what your organisation is doing to help women with perinatal mental health problems
  • Tweet using #maternalMHmatters
  • Participate in the nightly #PNDHour 8-9pm on Twitter @PNDandMe
  • Join in with and support activities being organised by other groups
  • Come up with your own ideas to highlight that #maternalMHmatters

Lead contacts:

Mums with lived experience from PMHP, Eve Canavan and Beth Bone

Email: to find out more about the week and how you can get involved


Twitter: #maternalMHmatters @pmhpuk


To find out what is happening during the week visit our event page.


NHS England update on the Next Steps On The NHS Five Year Forward View

Today, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, announces the Next Steps On The Five Year Forward View.

Endorsed by the other chief executives of NHS national bodies, the Next Steps sets out how to deliver practical improvements in areas prized by patients and the public – cancer, mental health and GP access – while transforming the way that care is delivered to ease pressure on hospitals by helping frail and older people live healthier, more independent lives.

The report includes perinatal mental health.

Read more here and download a copy of the report::


Beyond Peer Support: Twitter and Perinatal Mental Health

By Laura Wood, mum with lived experience who campaigns for better perinatal mental health, @cooksferryqueen

Laura has created a Twitter tutorial to help professionals working in the sector to make the most of Twitter for perinatal mental health. Here, she blogs about her story and how online peer support has helped her and others.

A month or so after my son’s traumatic birth in February 2014, I unravelled quite suddenly, and I had no idea what was happening to me. I was experiencing flashbacks, violent intrusive thoughts, and suicidal impulses. I was completely all over the place, and I was terrified. I was aware of postnatal depression, but I also knew that I wasn’t depressed. Continue reading Beyond Peer Support: Twitter and Perinatal Mental Health

New survey by RCOG highlights the urgent need to improve maternal mental healthcare

Today, Wednesday 22 February, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) publishes a survey Maternal Mental Health – Women’s Voices, supported by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA).

Women with mental health problems during and after pregnancy reveal the impact of low rates of specialist referral, long waits, as well as lack of consensus over medication and little support for their partners.

The survey of over 2,300 women who had given birth in the last five years, explores their experiences of perinatal mental health problems, engagement with healthcare professionals and the quality of care they received.

81% of women who responded had experienced at least one episode of a mental health problem during or after their pregnancy. Low mood was experienced by over two thirds of these women, anxiety by around half and depression by just over a third.


Only 7% of the women who reported experiencing a maternal mental health condition were referred to specialist care and for 38% of the women who were referred, it took over 4 weeks to be seen, with some waiting up to a year for treatment. Care across the country varied significantly with a 20% difference in referral rates in some areas, and the type of care received also varied – in one area only 8% of women were referred to specialist maternal mental healthcare services, compared with 50% in another.

Women frequently reported that they received inconsistent and conflicting advice around whether to continue, stop or change their medication. Care was often rushed and women who voiced concerns were shut down or had to repeatedly ask for help. Lack of continuity of care was often cited as a reason why women felt uncomfortable raising mental health problems with healthcare professionals. Women described a lack of awareness about the range of mental health problems, and that impact of physical conditions in pregnancy on a their mental health was often overlooked. Bereavement care following miscarriage or stillbirth and support for breastfeeding were also reported as lacking.

The survey also revealed that 12% of women’s partners experienced a mental health problem during or after the pregnancy and were provided with little support.

Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said:

“These survey results reveal the true impact of the care that women with maternal mental health problems currently receive in England and Wales and present a stark picture of how the NHS is letting some of the most vulnerable women in our society down. Only by listening to these women can we learn through their experiences and take urgent action to improve our services.

“Currently the fragmentation of health care provision means that women face a number of challenges accessing the care they need. Access to specialist community perinatal mental health services is crucial and greater integration between primary and secondary care will ensure that women are referred in a timely manner and receive the right support throughout their pregnancy and beyond.

“Healthcare professionals are often the first point of contact that a woman suffering with mental health problems reaches out to and we must ensure that all staff involved in the care of women during pregnancy and the first year after birth have relevant education and training in perinatal mental health. Our role should increasingly be about empowering women to make decisions about their care and in supporting women to help themselves.

“Giving parity of esteem to mental and physical health is crucial and we have some way to go in addressing the stigma associated with mental health. No one is to blame for developing a mental illness and as a society we need to be reinforcing this message constantly.

“There is a wealth of data, evidence and guidance on good practice. Maternal mental health has been made a key priority by Government and funding has been allocated in England and Wales for more highly specialised services. Listening to the voices of women gives us the opportunity of a lifetime to ensure that they and their families get the care they need and deserve.”

Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said:

“We know that suicide is a leading cause of maternal death, and that this represents the tip of an iceberg of suffering that has been ignored for too long. Despite some additional funding, GPs, midwives, health visitors, therapists and specialists providing perinatal mental health care are under extreme pressure, and in half of the UK, pregnant women and new mothers have no access to the care they need, and that the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says they should receive. Yet leaving this inadequate care for perinatal mental health problems adds costs to society of £8.1billion each year, of which over £1billion is borne by the NHS.

“In this survey, women have spoken out. Despite the pain, trauma and stigma these women have faced as a result of mental health problems, they have conveyed a clear and unequivocal message that services in the UK must improve. Women should not have to experience such low rates of referral, long waits, a lack of continuity of care, misunderstanding and stigma. Services must also address the needs of affected partners and children, whose mental health is so often neglected.

“These women have reminded us that the healthcare responsibility and the economic necessity to take action, are joined by a moral imperative to put an end to these unacceptable levels of avoidable suffering.”

Download a copy of the report here.


For media enquiries, copies of the full report and access to case studies, please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7772 6444 or email 

Please tweet this story using #maternalmentalhealth

Continue reading New survey by RCOG highlights the urgent need to improve maternal mental healthcare