New dedicated mental health services for mothers

Thousands of new, expectant or bereaved mothers will receive support for mental health problems through dozens of new dedicated hubs which are being set up across the country.

NHS England says that the 26 new hubs will bring together maternity services, reproductive health and psychological therapy under one roof, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. It will mean that approximately 6,000 women will receive care and treatment for a wide range of mental health issues from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after giving birth to others with a severe fear of childbirth.

As well as offering psychological therapies for new and expectant mums the clinics will also provide training for maternity staff and midwives.

Initially, the NHS will see 10 sites up and running within months, with the remainder opening by April 2022. Then, every area will have one by April 2024 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan to increase access to psychological support for women before, during and after pregnancy.

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “The pregnancy and the birth of a new child are a special time for families but if things go wrong it can have a huge impact on women, their partners and even other children. That is why the NHS is developing maternal mental health services to help them get back on track as part of our Long Term Plan.

“NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to deal with more than 393,000 patients requiring hospital treatment for Covid-19 but we have also kept mental health services running and I am delighted that, we are now expanding help for new, expectant and bereaved mums despite the continuing pandemic.”

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, said: “Every woman has a unique experience with pregnancy and motherhood and some will need extra support to cope with mental health issues that can range from anxiety to severe depression so I am delighted that mothers across all areas of the country will be able to access this help if they need it.

“The NHS is here for everyone who needs help and the expansion of specialist care through the roll out of these maternal mental health services will strengthen the services already in place, enabling us to improve the quality of care and outcomes for many women. I would encourage any mum who needs this support to come forward safe in the knowledge that her mental health and well-being are of paramount importance and she should not feel ashamed of accessing the help she needs.”

Emily Slater, CEO of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said: “The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) welcomes this positive step towards achieving ambitions for perinatal mental health laid out in the Long-Term Plan.

“For the more than one in 10 expectant and new mothers experiencing mental health problems, and the increased numbers as a result of the pandemic, there needs to be a system of care available to support them. These new services will enable more women than ever to access vital perinatal mental health care.

“The MMHA is keen to see training for all staff who interact with women and their families in the perinatal period, so we also welcome the role these services will play in upskilling the maternity workforce, alongside providing much-needed support.”

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