General Practitioners



Perinatal mental health problems affect up to 20% of women at some point during pregnancy and for the first year after birth, yet only around half of mothers with perinatal depression and anxiety are identified, and even fewer receive adequate treatment. Working with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance as a key stakeholder, the clinical priority aims to ensure women across UK have access to universal high quality mental health care and support in the perinatal period. The work takes a multi-disciplinary approach, focusing on raising awareness, developing educational resources for GPs, influencing curriculum and promoting collaborative working with other professions including midwives and health visitors.


Lead Organisation

Royal College of GPs - Dr Carrie Ladd


The programme aims to achieve:

  • Benefits for patients: equitable access to appropriate and high quality primary care services, with rapid access to psychological help for mild to moderate depression and anxiety disorders. Increased awareness of other means of support from third sector and provision of best possible bereavement support in the event of perinatal, infant or maternal death, alongside reduced behavioural and cognitive difficulties with infants and children.
  • Benefits for GPs: evidence based management and understanding of clinical care pathways including; understanding the importance of personal and family history, better pre-conception advice for women at higher risk, risk assessment of mental health at first consultation, benefits and risks of prescribing psychotropic medication pre-conception, in pregnancy and while breastfeeding and highlighting the importance of rapid access to specialist help for severe mental illness.
  • Benefits for the wider primary care community and integration of care: improved multi-disciplinary working with midwives and health visitors and more effective referral and communication.


This will be achieved by:

  • Ensuring the 6-8 week maternal check is evidence-led in terms of content and involves parity of focus on mental health as well as physical health
  • Including perinatal mental health as a core curriculum area of training of GPs, alongside developing online resources for continuing professional development
  • Developing a multi-disciplinary approach to progress and promote the most appropriate ways to support women, fathers and families after miscarriage, stillbirth or perinatal loss and maternal death
  • Developing materials to promote implementation of NICE perinatal mental health guidelines (2014) amongst GPs and primary health care
  • Supporting GPs with compassionate enquiry and response to women and families affected by perinatal difficulties



Dr Carrie Ladd, RCGP Clinical Champion