First Minister supports mental health issues for expectant and new mums

On Wednesday 6 March, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey, visited St John’s Hospital in Livingston to launch our new needs assessment and service recommendation report, and announce more than £50 million to be spent on improving access to mental health services for expectant and new mothers.

The report, published by our Perinatal Mental Health Network Scotland (PMHNS), one of the National Managed Clinical Networks, outlines recommendations to improve the provision of mental health care for expectant and new mothers and their families.

Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of women, and covers a wide range of conditions. If left untreated, it can have long lasting effects on women and their families.

Speaking on a visit to the mother and baby unit at St John's Hospital, the First Minister said:
"Our priority is to drive up standards of perinatal metal health care for new mothers and their children right across Scotland. Mental illness during pregnancy and during the first year after birth is really common, affecting up to one in five women, which is 11,000 a year.

"This new funding will identify mental health problems quickly so they can be treated promptly. Women and their families should also expect services to treat them with dignity and respect.

"The impact is not just felt by women. The mental and physical health of fathers and other partners can also be affected following the birth of a new baby. We also know that between 5% and 10% of fathers may develop mental health problems in the perinatal period."

Dr Roch Cantwell, Lead clinician for the Perinatal Mental Health National Managed Clinical Network, said:
"This report results from the enthusiasm, dedication and drive of women and their families who experience perinatal mental ill health, and the professionals who care for them across Scotland. Perinatal mental illness can be devastating, but we know that there are effective treatments which can manage and, in some circumstances, prevent its onset.

"The needs assessment and service recommendations report gives us a template to establish services which will ensure that women, their infants and families, receive expert care wherever they live in Scotland and that children can have the best start in life."

Women with lived experience of mental health difficulties during pregnancy or their first postnatal year contributed to the development of the report, and created a Women and Families Maternal Mental Health Pledge. It identifies patient expectations which will help improve care for women, their infants and families across Scotland. The pledge was launched in front of the First Minister and Minister for Mental Health by Clare Thompson.

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