Political parties in Northern Ireland agree landmark maternal mental health Consensus Statement

We in Northern Ireland urgently request the commitment of investment and ring-fencing of funds required to ensure women, babies, families and communities get the care and support they need and deserve.” 
– Consensus Statement on the improvement of Perinatal Mental Health services in Northern Ireland

Despite the stalemate in Stormont, all political parties in Northern Ireland have co-signed a ground-breaking Consensus Statement, drafted as part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance Everyone’s Business campaign, committing to close the gap in specialist mental health provision for women during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth.

England, Scotland and Wales have faced similar challenges with their specialist perinatal mental health services, but in recent years each have seen significant improvements due to specific and targeted investment. While stakeholders in Northern Ireland have shown support in principal, until now a formal commitment had not been made. Continue reading Political parties in Northern Ireland agree landmark maternal mental health Consensus Statement

NHS England announce specialist mental health support for new mums now available across England

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s (MMHA) Everyone’s Business campaign welcomes today’s announcement from NHS England about the opening of specialist perinatal mental health services in the remaining areas of England, meaning women should now be able to access life-saving care in their local area. Continue reading NHS England announce specialist mental health support for new mums now available across England

UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week 2019

When is it?

29th April to 5th May 2019, organised by MMHA member the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP).

What is it?

A week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental illness during pregnancy or after having a baby and signposting to support for all mums. The focus is on advocating for mums affected by maternal mental health and helping them to access the information and help they need to enable recovery.

This year’s theme for the third annual UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week is Mums Matter.

How to get involved

  1. Highlight what your organisation does to support families affected by perinatal mental illness
  2. Join in with the daily activities listed below
  3. Use the #maternalmhmatters hashtag on social media when referring to the week

Continue reading UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week 2019

Spring 2019 campaign e-bulletin published

The Everyone’s Business campaign Spring 2019 e-bulletin is now out, including details about:

  • Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of more than £50m for perinatal and infant mental health
  • London turning the map green
  • NSPCC NI’s new report saying it’s ‘time for action’

Download now

Please circulate far and wide and if you are on Twitter please retweet the e-bulletin from @MMHAlliance using #everyonesbusiness.

If you would like to receive the e-bulletins directly please sign up to our mailing list using the box on the right.

First Minister announces more than £50m funding boost for perinatal and infant mental health services

On 6th March, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey, visited the mother and baby unit (MBU) at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, Scotland, where they announced that more than £50m is to be spent on improving access to perinatal mental health (PMH) services.

Following the funding announcement, the National Managed Clinical Network (MCN) for PMH launched their needs assessment report, funded by the Scottish Government, and Women and Families Maternal Mental Health Pledge, which was developed in partnership with Maternal Mental Health Scotland Change Agents.

Continue reading First Minister announces more than £50m funding boost for perinatal and infant mental health services

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) responds to the launch of NHS England’s long term plan

January 7th saw the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan, setting out their ambitions for health care in England, including many positive goals for perinatal mental health.

Commenting on the publication of the NHS long term plan, The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) Director Emily Slater welcomed the plan’s announcement and commitment to women and families in England, in particular the news of an increase in services to benefit more women and the extension of specialist mental health support for new parents, which will now be offered for two years after the birth of their child.

Emily Slater said:

“The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is really pleased to see that the NHS has committed to expanding perinatal mental health services and helping more women and families access vital treatment. The details of the long-term plan signals that the NHS wants to build on the success it has had creating specialist perinatal mental health services to ensure more women and families can access essential, lifesaving support.”

Continue reading The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) responds to the launch of NHS England’s long term plan

MMHA welcomes news that partners of new mums with mental illness set to get support on the NHS

This statement from the NHS in England is warmly welcomed as it acknowledges the important unmet need for mental health support and treatment faced by many new fathers, and by partners of women who are themselves suffering mental health problems.

This will require services within and outside the NHS to work together, enhancing detection of mental health problems and providing the right care for those individuals, as well as for parents jointly, and for their relationships with their babies.

A great deal is already being done by NHS England, with new Government money, to improve specialist mental health care to mothers with severe mental health problems. We look forward to seeing these improvements continue, now coupled with improvements in care for fathers, mothers and partners across all levels of mental health need, from specialist mental health services, talking therapies, GPs, and health visitor and maternity services.

The MMHA Everyone’s Business campaign has a champion network of experts by experience and this includes Raj’s story, highlighting the need for further support and information for fathers and partners.

Urgent Need For Improved Mental Health Support For New Mums In Northern Ireland Is Everyone’s Business, says MMHA

Thousands of pregnant women and new mums in Northern Ireland who suffer from mental health problems are at risk of receiving inadequate levels of support, new research has found.

The research, from NSPCC Northern Ireland, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors (CPHVA), has found increased strain is being put on  midwives and health visitors across Northern Ireland with the issue currently receiving insufficient attention from policy-makers.

In Northern Ireland, this will affect approximately 2,400 to 4,800 live births each year[1]. If untreated, perinatal mental illnesses can have a devastating impact on women, babies and families.

The new report, Time For Action, published on 26th November by NSPCC Northern Ireland and partners, highlights gaps both in the identification of mental health illnesses and the response provided to women once they have disclosed problems or been detected in primary care. In its key recommendations, the report calls for the development of specialist services for women including a mother and baby unit for women who need close care and supervision and a training standard on perinatal mental illness for all professionals in Northern Ireland who care for women during this period.

MMHA’s Northern Ireland Co-Ordinator Lindsay Robinson said:

“If left untreated, perinatal mental health conditions can have devastating consequences for women and their families and we know that many hundreds are affected by these problems every year in Northern Ireland.

“There are clear national guidelines setting out that specialist services for women are vital. Despite this, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which has not invested in them.

“Specialist perinatal mental health services save lives – that’s why we’re calling for the development of specialist services for women in Northern Ireland, including a mother and baby unit for women who need close care and supervision. ”

Midwives and health visitors who took part in the research stressed that continuity of care and face to face time with mothers and babies is crucial for improving identification of problems and providing support.  But the research found that this was undermined by underfunding, overwork and growing levels and complexity of demand.

While the research found that health visitors and midwives in Northern Ireland experience similar types of challenges in identifying and responding to perinatal mental illnesses as their counterparts in the rest of the UK, professionals in Northern Ireland have not benefitted from the levels of investment made in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which has not committed to investment of funds in perinatal mental health, despite major funding (£390m) having been pledged via the Barnett formula in 2016.

The report calls for:

  • A training standard on perinatal mental illness for all professionals in Northern Ireland who care for women during this period;
  • A review of ways of working within midwifery and health visiting services to improve continuity of care and the time that these professionals have to spend with women;
  • Clarification on the use of screening tools, and review of training needs around ‘how’ midwives and health work with women, including advanced practice skills around disclosure;
  • Greater alignment of the role of professionals to respond to perinatal mental health needs, and also support the parent-infant relationship and infant’s mental health; and
  • Development of specialist services for women including a mother and baby unit for women who need close care and supervision.

 

The research involved a survey of 332 health visitors and midwives located across all five Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland[1]. The survey covered the following topics: recognition, referral and management of perinatal mental illness; training; and opportunities and challenges. It also gathered demographic information

A cautious estimate based on 2016 workforce census headcount data put the final survey sample at approximately 23 per cent of the health visitor population and 15 per cent of the midwife population (rounded to the nearest percent). See Department of Health and NISRA: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/ni-health-and-social-care-workforce-census-march-2016.

 

MMHA responds to MBRRACE report into UK maternal deaths

Today the latest UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths has been published by MBRRACE-UK.

This year the report – Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care 2018 – examines in detail the care of women who died during or up to one year after pregnancy between 2014 and 2016 in the UK and Ireland from mental health conditions, blood clots, cancer, and homicide, and women who survived major bleeding.

Maternal suicide is the fifth most common cause of women’s deaths during pregnancy and its immediate aftermath, and the leading cause of death over the first year after pregnancy.

The report states that “there is now greater awareness of the importance of mental health during pregnancy and in the first year after birth. But there is still a long way to in recognising symptoms, supporting women with mental health problems and providing access to specialist perinatal mental health care.”

Maternal deaths are not evenly spread across the population. Black women are five times and Asian women two times more likely to die as a result of complications in their pregnancy than white women.

In response, Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance said:

“The human tragedies described here emphasise the urgency of addressing the gaps in perinatal mental health care in pregnancy, postnatally and pre-conceptually.

The enquiry shows that maternal suicide is the fifth most common cause of women’s deaths during pregnancy and its immediate aftermath, and it remains the leading cause of death over the first year after birth.

Alongside improvements in specialist mother and baby mental health services – that are becoming evident in England and Wales, women need professionals in all services to be as interested, knowledgeable and skilled in mental health care during maternity as they are in their care of women’s physical health. Women and babies also need services to work together and to have the capacity and resources to provide routine detection, prevention and treatment, and crisis care, all of which are needed to ensure care is both effective and safe.”

Read the full report on the MBRRACE-UK website.

Final Mums and Babies in Mind project report published

This month the MMHA published the final report for our  Mums and Babies in Mind project (MABIM). The project supported local commissioners and providers to improve services and pathways for mums with perinatal mental health problems and their babies.

MABIM took a whole-system approach, working with professionals from a range of disciplines not only to improve services, but also to create local pathways and partnerships, which are essential to ensure that all women experiencing perinatal mental health problems get the right support at the right time.

The final project report describes the activity that took place through the MABIM project and its reach and impact. This is accompanied by a more detailed evaluation report produced by Professor Susan Ayers and her team at City University. Both reports demonstrate that MABIMwas very well received and seems to have resulted in positive changes to local services and care pathways. They contain useful messages about barriers and enablers to local progress in tackling perinatal mental illness.

You can view the final report here and the evaluation report here.