More than one in ten women develop a mental illness during pregnancy and the year after birth, so the investment in perinatal mental health by NHS England, as part of the Five Year Forward View has been crucial to help develop and expand specialist perinatal services, which women and families across the country urgently need.
Mental health has long been an underfunded area and with the money for perinatal mental health now in baselines, we know that some mental health commissioners, like us, are worried that the funds intended to sustain and increase these services in local areas, could be diverted to support other facilities, such as A&E.
We welcome NHS England’s efforts, including clear expectations that all areas will need to meet the Mental Health Investment Standard and deliver the requirements set out in the Five Year Forward View, and practical measures such as the finance tracker, but we all know that it is vital that what happens at the local level continues to build on the improvements that have been seen within perinatal mental health in the last few years.
How MMHA can help commissioners
- We can connect you to our network of lived experience champions whose lives have been affected by perinatal mental illness.
- As a national campaign, we have connections across the country who we may be able to introduce you to for insight into how other areas are approaching this.
- Our interactive resources hub contains essential resources for UK professionals working in perinatal mental health, including guidance documents for commissioners.
These are just some suggested ways we may be able to help but we would like to know what you would find most useful. Please email email@example.com to discuss how we can best support your work.
How much money is needed and where should it be spent?
The national team at NHS England have carefully calculated the funding needed, adapted to the Mental Health Weighted populations, and several checks are in place at the national level to help ensure the funds translate into the services and support they were intended for. But we know that, like us, some mental health commissioners are still worried about how the budget will be spent.
To meet all national standards of care, including the crucial psychological interventions needed to prevent long term consequences for mother and baby, specialist teams need to provide the full nationally recommended range of evidence-based interventions and therefore require the staff to provide these.
What the MMHA are doing and why
The MMHA continue to work closely with NHS England centrally to ensure perinatal services meet the needs of the women and families who depend on them, but we would also like to support commissioners who may be concerned as to how funding intended for specialist services will be spent in their area.
We produced a map showing specialist perinatal mental health services across the country, which last year showed that women in a quarter of the country still had no access to services.
We know investment has helped establish more services, but it is crucial for women and families to know that once specialist services are established in their area, funding for them is sustainable and will not disappear. If we can help you in your efforts to make this a reality, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about the MMHA, our mission and our members.