Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Robin Swann, has approved funding for the development of a new Perinatal Mental Health Delivery Model, including specialist multi-disciplinary perinatal mental health teams in each of the five trust areas.
“I am delighted to announce the approved funding to establish a new specialist perinatal mental health community service model for Northern Ireland.”
Health Minister Robin Swann
Currently, only new or expectant mothers in Belfast Trust can access specialist community support for their perinatal mental health. However, this funding could finally turn the map green and end Northern Ireland’s perinatal postcode lottery.
The cost of the new specialist perinatal mental health services is estimated at £4.7million per year – far less than the cost of untreated perinatal mental health problems. The announcement is particularly timely given the additional pressures of the pandemic and its impact on maternal mental health and perinatal health and support services.
Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) member, Everyone’s Business champion and tireless campaigner, Lindsay Robinson (Have you seen that girl?) said:
“As a mum with lived experience of perinatal mental illness, I am absolutely thrilled and very relieved that these specialist perinatal services will finally be made available here.
“Campaigning for these services, for the last five years, and now knowing they will be delivered, brings me (and so many others mums) so much joy.
“Some of the darkest and most difficult days of my life would have been transformed had access to these been available, I know personally the difference they can and will make for mums, infants and families.”
The MMHA is delighted by this wonderful news. We would like to say an enormous and heartfelt thank you to campaigners, experts by experience and clinicians, whose sustained and coordinated efforts have made this happen. It is a truly exciting and happy day for Northern Ireland.
Not forgetting that the Everyone’s Business campaign calls for access to specialist perinatal services for all, a term which refers to both specialist community teams and inpatient mother and baby units (MBUs), where mum and baby are cared for together when hospitalisation is required. Currently, there are no active plans to establish an MBU in Northern Ireland but a business case is under development and the Health Department understand the need for this vital – and, in some cases, lifesaving – service.
There’s still a journey ahead but we’re delighted to be one step closer to securing equal access to specialist perinatal mental health support for women and families in Northern Ireland and across the whole of the UK.
For more information, visit health-ni.gov.uk