What are specialist perinatal mental health (PMH) services?
‘Specialist perinatal mental health (PMH) services’ provide life-saving care to women and families affected by severe or complex mental health problems during pregnancy and in the first years after birth. Services include:
The importance of specialist PMH services
There are clear national guidelines setting out that specialist services for women who meet the need threshold are vital. As well as providing life-saving care, specialist PMH services also:
- Act as a catalyst for change across the whole pathway, including for women who do not meet the need threshold for referral.
- Identify gaps in other parts of the care pathway, including for women with so-called mild to moderate PMH problems, and advocate for them to be addressed.
- Share expertise with, and deliver training to, a range of health and social care professionals, including GPs, health visitors and midwives.
Mapping specialist PMH services in the UK
What do the latest maps tell us about the provision of specialist PMH community teams in the UK?
Sustained and coordinated efforts have led to improvements in specialist PMH service provision, as our maps show. However, it remains patchy, especially in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, where women and their families still face a tragic postcode lottery.
No specialist team exists
Some extremely basic level of provision exists but currently falls short of national standards and needs expanding
Some basic level of provision exists but currently falls short of national standards and needs expanding
Women and families can access treatment that meets nationally agreed standards
Download nation-specific community maps (2019 data):
Let’s turn the map green for women and families across the UK!
Mother and Baby Units (MBUs)