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Defining essential perinatal mental health care: GPs and other primary care

The MMHA’s ‘Make all care count’ campaign phase highlights and defines eight essential services that can play a crucial role in improving outcomes for women and families affected by perinatal mental health problems.

What is the role of GPs and other primary care services in providing essential perinatal mental health care?

    • At all stages of the perinatal period professionals within primary care can play an important role in identifying and supporting women experiencing perinatal mental health (PMH) problems and fathers struggling with their mental health too.


    • Professionals within primary care who work with women, babies and families include GPs, practice nurses, and professionals offering psychological therapies.


    • GPs can detect and diagnose mental health problems and identify women. They also offer support, which may include prescribing medication, referring to a specialist PMH service or signposting a woman to a local voluntary service. In England, GPs offer a maternal postnatal check to women that includes questions on mental health and should take place six to eight weeks after giving birth.


    • For those women who would benefit from talking therapies delivered by a primary care psychological service (e.g. IAPT in England), these can be accessed by self-referring themselves or by being referred to the service by a professional.


    • Within primary care, practice nurses will routinely have contact with a new mother and their babies throughout the infant’s first year, for example by providing infant immunisations.

If you would like further information about GPs and primary care, please see:

    1. Falling through the gaps: perinatal mental health and general practice (Royal College of General Practitioners and others)

If you are aware of any resources it would be useful to add, please email


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