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.
The report recommends:
- A national approach to ensure all women, even in low birth rate areas, have equitable access to specialist services
- Education for all staff working with women during pregnancy and the postnatal period, in-line with the ground-breaking Curricular Framework for Perinatal Mental Health
- Increased capacity to ensure every woman can get the help she needs when she needs it
- Promotion of the role of peer support within specialist teams
- Involvement of women and families with lived experience in service development, with appropriate support.
Rosey Adams, Everyone’s Business Scotland Coordinator and Champion, said:
“I had my children in the Western Isles, with very little support for my mental health. Seeing a focus on improving specialist and peer support services in low birth areas is fantastic!”
As the MCN’s mapping and gapping work showed, many women in Scotland are currently unable to access vital specialist services. For example, the Network found that the Leverndale MBU had 44 patients who could not be immediately admitted in 2018.
Clare Thompson, Everyone’s Business Scotland Coordinator and Champion, comments,
“I received excellent care from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, but I know there are women across Scotland who are not supported well enough by specialist services, such as inpatient and community care.”
Speaking to the BBC, Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Perinatal mental health affects around about 1 in 5 women, 11,000 women a year in Scotland. It’s a really important priority area so that we can build upon the fantastic work that’s done in the NHS already but make sure we’re improving community services, peer services and specialist support for those with the most severe illness.”
The MMHA looks forward to seeing how the boost in funding, together with the MCN’s recommendations, will translate into equitable and sustainable specialist services for women and families across Scotland.
We would like to congratulate our Scottish members, coordinators and champions for working tirelessly to see these developments happen.
Read about the funding announcement from the Scottish Government, and the reactions from MMHA members, Maternal Mental Health Scotland and Aberlour.