Letter to The Times Editor

On Monday 20th October 2014, The Times published a letter signed by 70 leading academics highlighting concerns about gaps in services for women with mental health problems during the perinatal period – please see below:

Dear Sir,

We are writing to warn of the dangers of current gaps in services for women with mental health problems during pregnancy or postnatal period. Research released earlier this year shows that there are no specialist NHS perinatal mental health services in nearly half of areas in the UK and many regions have no specialist inpatient Mother and Baby Units. These gaps have important implications for the wellbeing of women and their families.

Maternal mental illness is common, affecting more than 10 percent of new mothers. It can also be severe, with suicide a leading cause of maternal death. In addition to the devastating consequences to the woman, untreated illness can have adverse effects on child development and long-term outcomes. Many of these problems can be avoided if maternal mental health problems are identified early and treated effectively but sadly too many women still do not receive the care they need.

Today, a new report reveals the heavy economic cost of perinatal mental illness to our society and public services. It shows that the long-term costs to society of perinatal mental illness are more than £8bn for each annual cohort of births in the UK. Nearly three quarters of this cost results from the adverse impacts of perinatal mental illness on the child.

We urge UK governments to do more to tackle the harm caused by maternal mental illnesses. They must hold national and local commissioners to account for the current lack of provision. The costs of perinatal mental illness – both human and economic – are too high to ignore this important issue.

Professor Debra Bick

Professor of Evidence Based Midwifery

King’s College, London


Professor Leon Feinstein

Visiting Professor at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion

London School of Economics


Professor Peter Fonagy

Chief Executive, The Anna Freud Centre

Head of the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology

University College London


Professor Vivette Glover

Professor of Perinatal Psychobiology

Imperial College London


Professor Ian Jones

Director, National Centre for Mental Health

Cardiff University


Professor Alan Stein

Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

University of Oxford


Professor Terence Stephenson

Chair, UK Academy of Medical Royal Colleges


Professor Kathryn M. Abel

Professor of Psychological Medicine

The University of Manchester


Dr Cheryll Adams,


Institute of Health Visiting


Dr Catherine Angell

Senior Academic for Midwifery

Bournemouth University


Dr Cathy Ashwin

Honorary Asst. Professor

University of Nottingham


Professor Jane Barlow

Professor of Public Health in the Early Years

Warwick University


Dr Sue Barker

Lecturer in Mental Health nursing

Cardiff University


Dr Giles Berrisford

Chair Action on Postpartum Psychosis and Honorary Senior Lecturer

University of Birmingham


Dr Roch Cantwell

Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist

University of Glasgow


Elaine Clark

Chair of Scottish Perinatal Mental Health Forum


Dr FlorianaCoccia

Honorary Senior Lecturer and Senior Academy Tutor

University of Birmingham


Professor John Cox

Professor Emeritus

Keele University


Professor Nick Craddock

Professor of Psychiatry

Cardiff University


Dr Michael C. Craig

Senior Lecturer & Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London


Emeritus Professor Dame Sarah Cowley,

Academic Health Visitor

King’s College London


Dr Paola Dazzan

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN)

King’s College London


Dr Arianna Di Florio

Research Fellow in Perinatal Mental Health

Cardiff University


Dr Jonathan Evans

Senior Lecturer

University of Bristol


Professor Charles Fernyhough

Department of Psychology

Durham University


Professor David Foreman

Visiting Professor

Royal Holloway, University of London


Dr Alain Gregoire

Chair, Maternal Mental Health Alliance

Southampton University


Dr Ben Hannigan

Reader in Mental Health Nursing

Cardiff University


Dr Jessica Heron

Senior Research Fellow in Perinatal Psychiatry

University of Birmingham


Professor Pat Hoddinott

Chair in Primary Care

Stirling University


Professor Kerry Hood

Director South East Wales Trials Unit

Cardiff University


Professor Louise Howard

NIHR Research Professor; Professor in Women’s Mental Health & Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London


Professor Vanora Hundley

Professor of Midwifery, Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

Bournemouth University


Professor Billie Hunter

RCM Professor of Midwifery

Cardiff University


John Hyde

Associate Lecturer Mental Health

Cardiff University


Dr Lisa Jones

Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry

University of Birmingham


Dr Ann John

Associate Professor

Swansea University


Professor Sally Kendall

Director, Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care

School of Health and Social Work, University of Hertfordshire


Professor Nancy Loucks

Centre for Law, Crime & Justice

University of Strathclyde.


Professor Christine MacArthur

Professor of Maternal and Child Epidemiology

University of Birmingham


Professor Alan Maryon-Davis

Chair, Best Beginnings, Hon Professor of Public Health

Department of Primary Care & Public Health Sciences

Kings College, London


Professor Elizabeth Meins

Department of Psychology

University of York


Dr R. Hamish McAllister-Williams

Reader in Clinical Psychopharmacology

Newcastle University


Dr Liz McDonald

Chair of Perinatal Faculty

Royal College of Psychiatrists


Dr Kirstie McKenzie-McHarg

Consultant Clinical Psychologist Honorary Research Fellow

City University


Professor Helen Minnis,

Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

University of Glasgow


Professor Derek Moore

Director of Institute for Research in Child Development

University of East London


Sarah Morton

Co-Director, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships

University of Edinburgh


Dr Heather O’Mahen,

Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

University of Exeter.


Dr Magaret Oates OBE

Clinical Director, East Midlands Strategic Clinical Network, NHS England.


Dr ShantiniParanjothy

Clinical Senior Lecturer in Public Health Medicine

Cardiff University


Professor Carmine Pariante

Professor of Biological Psychiatry

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London


Dr Susan Pawlby

Lecturer and Developmental Psychologist

Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London


Professor Stavros Petrou

Professor of Health Economics

The University of Warwick


Dr. Moira Plant

Emerita Professor of Alcohol Studies

University of the West of England


Dr Christine Puckering

Honorary Senior Research Fellow

University of Glasgow


Professor Mary Renfrew

Professor of Mother and Infant Health

University of Dundee


Professor Jane Sandall

Professor of Women’s Health

King’s College London


Dr Julia Sanders

Reader and Consultant Midwife,

Cardiff University


Dr Judy Shakespeare

RCGP Clinical Champion in Perinatal Mental Health


Professor Debbie Sharp

Professor of Primary Health Care

University of Bristol


Dr Helen Sharp

Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

University of Liverpool


Professor Pauline Slade

Professor of Clinical Psychology

Chair Faculty of Perinatal Psychology for the British Psychological Society

University of Liverpool


Professor Mary Target

Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology

University College London


Professor Julie Taylor

Director, Child Protection Research Centre

University of Edinburgh


Grace Thomas

Professional Head of Midwifery and Lead Midwife for Education

Cardiff University


Professor EssiViding

Professor of Developmental Psychopathology

University College London


Dr Pamela Warner

Centre for Research on Families & Relationships,

University of Edinburgh


Professor Cathy Warwick OBE

Chief Executive

Royal College of Midwives


Dr Angelika Weick

Honorary Senior Lecturer

University of Manchester


Professor Phil Wilson

Professor of primary care and rural health

University of Aberdeen


Dr Anja Wittkowski

Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

University of Manchester


Dr Julie Wray

Senior Lecturer School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Science, University of Salford