Perinatal Mental Health Services – encouraging support

The start of 2016 has seen a huge surge of interest in Perinatal Mental Health in many different arenas. There has been a storm of media coverage, renewed significant parliamentary commitment and promised funds from Government, all focused on specialist perinatal mental health care.

When questioned about how the pledged extra investment would be spent, Alistair Burt MP, the Minister of State for the Department of Health said:

“The additional significant investment in perinatal mental health totalling £350 million from 2016/17- 2020/21, together with the recommendations of the forthcoming report of the independent Mental Health Taskforce, will enable NHS England to design a broader five year transformation programme to build capacity and capability in specialist perinatal mental health services, with the aim of enabling women in all areas of England to access care that is in line with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines by 2020/21.

 “Work is underway to lay the foundations for this longer-term work through targeted funding of activities to build capacity in specialist services. This will include, for example, a £1 million investment in strengthening clinical networks across the country. It is also expected to include developing clinical leadership capacity and training for the perinatal workforce to build the skills and capabilities within specialist teams.

“NHS England will work with partners, including Health Education England, over the coming months, to develop the five-year programme for improving specialist perinatal mental health services.”

Source: Hansard 29th January


Burt also referred to the prominent story featured currently in the major BBC1 soap EastEnders, saying:

I agree that the Alliance is right to draw attention to this and I want our response to be better than it has been in the past. It’s great that EastEnders is raising awareness of this very important issue and it makes for some harrowing scenes to watch. Having a baby is a major life event and we want all new and expectant mums to get the mental health support they need. That’s why we are spending an extra £350million on perinatal mental health services over the next five years.

“We have specialist Mother and Baby units across the country that allow women to stay with their babies while they get the psychiatric care they need, and we have trained midwives and health visitors to be able to spot the signs of perinatal mental illness. The investment we’ve made will help us make sure all women get the right support, at the right time, regardless of where they live.”

The Eastenders storyline focuses primarily on a family’s fight to get a mother a place in a Mother and Baby Unit after she is admitted without her newborn baby to an adult psychiatric ward when suffering Postpartum Psychosis. We thank the Eastenders team and the Alliance members who have worked closely together to ensure the filming was true and accurate. The soap has been instrumental in both raising understanding and awareness of this condition.

Mental Health Taskforce announcement

In addition to the announcements regarding the extra parliamentary spend in Perinatal Mental Health care, it was made public on Monday 15th Feb that an extra £1 billion per year would be released into mental health services by the year 2020. Maternal mental health is also detailed in this announcement:

One in five mothers suffer from mental health problems during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. It costs around £8.1 billion for each annual birth cohort or almost £10,000 per birth. Yet fewer than 15% of areas have the necessary perinatal mental health services and more than 40% provide none at all.  New funding should be invested to support at least 30,000 more women each year to access evidence-based specialist mental health care in the perinatal period.”

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP said:

We have made monumental strides in the way we think about and treat mental illness in this country in the last few decades — from a society that locks people away in asylums to one giving mental health equal priority in law.

“But we must accelerate progress even further. Our shared vision of a seven-day mental health service means people will get the care they need, when they need it, and will help us do much more to prevent mental illness in the first place. We will work across Government and with the NHS to make the recommendations in this landmark report a reality, so that we truly deliver equality between mental and physical health.”

For further detail about the announcement please click here.

National Institute of Health and Care Excellence – Quality standards Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health

Thursday 18th February also saw the launch of the new NICE Quality Standards for Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health, click here for further details.