by Sally Hogg, Strategic Lead, MMHA Mums and Babies in Mind project
It is fantastic to see this new funding from NHS England for specialist perinatal mental health community services and inpatient mother and baby units. It is much needed, and will make a huge difference to the lives of many new mothers and their families.
In physical healthcare, it has long been accepted that specialist services provide higher standards and quality of care. The same is true in perinatal mental health. Specialist perinatal mental health services have the expertise required to meet the unique needs of mums with mental health problems. They understand pregnancy, birth and new parenthood, and the importance of supporting the critically important relationship between a mum and her baby. Specialist services can offer real prevention and early intervention: offering pre-conception and preventative care to women, and responding quickly if problems do occur.
This new funding is much needed. In recent years the Maternal Mental Health Alliance has highlighted how more than 40% of areas in England have no specialist perinatal mental health team and those that do often fail to reach accepted standards. This postcode lottery leads to unnecessary suffering for women and their families, as well as costs to public services.
The areas receiving this new funding will be important trailblazers; leading the expansion of provision. It is wonderful that the Government has committed to another phase of development funding next year and funding for all areas from 2019/20. It is important that local commissioners and providers in all areas work together now to plan how they will develop their new services, so that they are prepared to act quickly and effectively when the funding is received.
We are delighted that three of our Mums and Babies in Mind areas – Gloucestershire, Haringey and Essex – are receiving funding in this new phase of development funding. We look forward to working with them as they establish their specialist teams. We have also released a ‘top tips’ report and toolkit on our website to support any area commissioner or provider in the UK to develop a new specialist service.
Download the toolkit and ‘top tips’ report on developing a specialist perinatal mental health service: www.maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/mumsandbabiesinmind/mabim-tools