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Defining essential perinatal mental health care: voluntary and community sector support

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 the voluntary and community sector in providing essential perinatal mental health care?

    • New parents and families can access a wide range of support services delivered by voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations, including peer support.


    • Support services provided by the VCS may be delivered by volunteers and staff (who may or may not have a clinical background) within a wide range of organisations. These include groups set up by individuals who have experienced or identified gaps in support in their communities, local community organisations, and large national charities.


    • Services provided by the VCS complement statutory services and often have a strong local focus, although some offer support on a regional or national level.


    • Some VCS organisations are sustained through charitable grants and fundraising, while others are part or wholly commissioned by local statutory services.


    • PMH services delivered by VCS organisations work well when they are embedded in local or national clinical services. This helps to ensure there is a clear referral pathway and parents receive the information and support they need.


    • People from the VCS sector who support women and families during the perinatal period need to have completed perinatal mental health (PMH) training relevant to the support they are offering.


    • VCS organisations offer non-judgmental safe spaces and accessible and relatable services for parents affected by perinatal mental health problems. This support helps to ensure honest conversations take place and parents receive the tailored support they need.

If you would like further information about voluntary and community sector support, please see:

  1. The Perinatal Peer Support Principles (Maternal Mental Health Alliance)
  2. Tools and resources for the voluntary and community sector (Maternal Mental Health Alliance)

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


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