The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) is a charity and coalition of UK organisations with a vision to see all women across the UK get consistent, accessible and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth.
More than one in ten women develop a mental illness during this time and if untreated these illnesses can have a devastating impact on women and their families.
The term ‘specialist perinatal mental health services’ refers to both specialist perinatal mental health community teams, as well as inpatient mother and baby units where mum and baby are cared for together when hospitalisation is required. There are clear national guidelines setting out that specialist services for women who meet the need threshold are vital.
Perinatal mental illnesses
Perinatal mental health refers to a woman’s mental health during pregnancy and the first year after birth. This includes mental illness existing before pregnancy, as well as illnesses that develop for the first time, or are greatly exacerbated in the perinatal period.
Examples of perinatal mental illness include antenatal depression, postnatal depression, anxiety, perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder, postpartum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These illnesses can be mild, moderate or severe, requiring different kinds of care or treatment.
Specialist perinatal mental health services save lives; they also act as a catalyst for change across the whole pathway, including for women who do not meet the need threshold for referral: specialist teams identify gaps in other parts of the care pathway, including for women with mild to moderate perinatal mental health problems; advocate for these to be addressed; share expertise and deliver training with a range of health and social care professionals including GPs, health visitors and midwives.
For more information: https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/
Global resources: https://wmmhday.postpartum.net/