Keeping maternal mental health on the political agenda

Let's come together and make sure maternal mental health is a priority for the new government!

Jump to: How you can help influence

A new Labour government was elected on 4 July 2024.

It's crucial that we work together to make sure maternal mental health is prioritised.

Why is maternal mental health important?
  • Mental health problems are the most common complication of pregnancy and the postnatal period (affecting at least 1 in 5) and yet there is far less investment and attention compared to physical conditions like gestational diabetes (1 in 20) and pre-eclampsia (1-5 in 100).
  • Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death six weeks to a year after birth.
  • Untreated, maternal mental illness costs ~£8.1bn each year in the UK, or an average of £190m a year for an average-sized integrated care system.
  • Black and minority ethnic women, young mothers and those facing domestic abuse, poverty or multiple disadvantages continue to experience poorer outcomes.
Find out more about maternal mental health
The current landscape

Despite its prevalence and devastating human and economic consequences, mental health still does not receive anywhere near the same level of attention or investment as physical health during and after pregnancy.

In the last 10 years, thanks to national investment and commitment, there has been welcome progress in the availability of specialist perinatal mental health services for women with the most severe and complex issues. However, there is no routinely funded provision for women with more common maternal mental health problems (such as depression and anxiety), and families still face a postcode lottery trying to access care across statutory and voluntary sector services.

In addition, some women face additional barriers to accessing care. Trauma, stigma, discrimination and isolation can act as barriers, meaning women who are in most need of care are those who have the most difficulty accessing it.

  • Data suggests that postnatal depression and anxiety are 13% higher in Black and brown mothers than in white mothers.
  • 93% of health visitors have reported seeing an increase in the number of families affected by poverty.
  • 78% of health visitors are reporting an increase in maternal mental health problems
Learn more about the perinatal mental health landscape

But there is a real story of hope and potential here.

With the right support, women do recover. There is a vital opportunity for the new government to create positive change for current and future generations.

Given pregnancy and after birth is the time in someone’s life when they have the most contact with health services, it is the ideal opportunity to ensure mental health support is treated as an essential element of antenatal and postnatal care.

We want to make mental health check-ins as standard as taking blood pressure.

What do we want?

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) is calling for the new government to demonstrate their support for the mental health of new and expectant mothers by supporting the following ask:

New and expectant mothers’ mental health must be valued as much as their physical health, this means making sure mental health is sensitively discussed at every contact they have with a health professional.

Download briefing for more detail

How you can help

  1. Write to or email your MP using our template.

  2. Spread the word on social media tagging @MMHAlliance.

You could also ask to meet with your MP and invite a member of the MMHA team (we'd be very happy to support you).

For parliamentarians
  • Read our briefing.
  • Discuss our policy asks, detailed throughout this briefing, with your colleagues, raise them in relevant debates and publicise them on your social media, tagging @MMHAlliance.
  • Meet with the MMHA to further discuss the issues facing women and families. If your office contacts, we will schedule a time at your earliest convenience.