Key recommendations to sustain progress

All four nations in the UK have achieved fantastic progress. Each nation has made commitments to address the undeniable gaps that exist in specialist perinatal mental health (PMH) services, leading to increased levels of funding. This investment has resulted in an expansion of these essential services, which is transforming the lives of women and birthing people, babies, and families.

However, there are still significant challenges to be addressed.

The recommendations listed below are drawn from the learnings captured while gathering mapping and funding data. These we hope will continue to make the urgent case for specialist services.

1. Ensure funding is more transparent

Make it easier to understand how much money is being spent on PMH services in each local area with more accessible data and transparent mechanisms.

2. Address short- and long-term workforce issues

Develop a robust and sustained workforce plan that is backed by adequate investment.

3. Prioritise equity

Improve understanding of those women whose needs are less well met by existing services and take action so care is equitable for all families.

4. Have ambitious quality standards

The Royal College of Psychiatrists' quality standards for community teams should be ambitious and relevant across the UK.

5. Enable women’s experiences to create change

The voices of women and family members need to be heard to help services and the wider system better understand what quality care looks like.


Jillian's story

"I have no doubt that my recovery would have been quicker and my partner’s experience less traumatic if I’d been under specialist perinatal mental health care."

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6. Continue commitment to specialist PMH care

At the national and local level, ongoing commitment is needed so there are sufficient funds and resources available to plan and deliver specialist PMH services across the UK.

7. Improve data collection and transparency

Develop effective processes to collect data, including monitoring across equality groups to identify inequalities. Make more data publicly available, so it is clearer where progress is being made and what gaps remain.

8. Join up the care women and families receive

Ensure women and families receive comprehensive PMH care across the clinical pathway, with clear communication between professionals and the integration of services.

9. Take a trauma-informed approach

All health services in contact with women during the perinatal period should have a trauma-informed approach, with care designed to meet the individual needs of women and their families.


Leanne's story

"I’ve seen first-hand the progress in my local area and the difference investment has made to the quality and breadth of [specialist PMH] care. However, as a peer supporter, I’ve also witnessed services struggle to meet the increasing needs of mums being referred in the wake of COVID-19 and in the midst of a cost of living crisis."

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These recommendations go beyond specialist PMH services alone. The MMHA's aim is to think about the wider conditions and systems that can make positive change, transform the approach to care and help ensure women and birthing people, babies and families can access the right mental health care at the right time.

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