Last month the ‘The economic case for increasing access to treatment for women with common mental health problems during the perinatal period’ report was published*.
Eight years ago, in the report ‘The Costs of Perinatal Mental Health Problems’, the message was already crystal clear: ‘As well as human suffering, perinatal mental illnesses carry a total long-term cost to society, calculated conservatively, of more than £8.1 billion for each annual group of births in the U.K.’ And that’s solely the economic aspect, there is so so much more to take into account here.
In the Foreword of this report, the President of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, Dr Alain Gregoire, states that ‘A significant proportion of women develop a perinatal mental health problem during pregnancy or within the first years after having a baby.’ and that ‘For at least two decades the research evidence has told us clearly what needs to be done to help these women and their families, yet most of them, are very far from receiving the quality of care for their mental health that they can rightly expect for their physical health.'
Evidence shows that ‘psychological interventions that target the mother-infant relationship can, in addition to improving maternal mental health outcomes, achieve positive effects in terms of child development and behaviour.’ (Fonagy et al (2016), Stein et al (2018).
While improvements are gradually being made in terms of mental health support overall, unfortunately, as this report explains, the current services are ‘typically not set up or appropriately resourced to offer mental health support that is specific to women’s needs during the perinatal period’.
2014 was eight years ago. Even then, it was apparent that more structured and targeted support was required. While progress has been made in some areas, so much more needs to be done to support women at this pivotal time in their lives. Not just for them but for their children, partners, families and wider communities too.
This isn’t about solely about women, it’s about each and every one of us and our children. We need to actively and effectively address the needs of mothers during this time if we are to give future generations what they need and deserve: The strongest foundations to thrive in their early years, on into adolescence and then adulthood.
Please take a look at the report and share this information to push for changes to be made in order to improve, and save lives.
* This report was funded by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and in partnership with the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)