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NHS funding boost to support new mothers’ mental health

£23m for perinatal mental health community services

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 07 February 2018

The NHS has confirmed a funding boost to help pregnant women and new mothers who are experiencing mental health problems.

A total of £23 million is to be made available through the wave two fund this year and from 2019/20 funding for specialist perinatal mental health community services will be allocated through clinical commissioning group (CCG) baseline budgets.

The purpose of the fund is to develop specialist perinatal mental health community services, and increase the availability of high quality interventions and support for women, their babies and families. In common with round one, wave two focuses on expanding existing specialist community teams into a wider geography or resourcing new teams to meet the needs of the population more comprehensively.

The scheme will enable more women to get specialist mental health care, in person and through online consultations including over Skype, during the early stages of motherhood, supported by a total of £365 million, by 2021.

NHS England states that perinatal mental ill health affects up to 20% of women during pregnancy and in their first year after giving birth.

As well as being crucial to new mothers, newborns and their families, perinatal services, alongside other treatments for common mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, can play an important role in ensuring mental health is integrated into overall healthcare at the earliest possible stage of life.

The new funding for community perinatal services follows additional spending since 2016 of £40 million. The development of community services is part of an overall package of increasing access to perinatal care, which includes four new mother and baby units and the recruitment of over 200 specialist staff, including 21 consultant psychiatrists and more than 100 nurses and therapists.

Claire Murdoch, director of mental health for NHS England, said: “With so many new mothers having the joy of motherhood interrupted by mental ill health, improving care, investment and focus on this issue, is crucial.

“Falling pregnant and becoming a mother is a hugely emotional experience, so having expert support available, including working with people’s partners as well as their wider family and social networks, to help manage the upheaval, means that women who are experiencing mental health issues don’t have to suffer and struggle alone.

“Improving community access to mental health care is the cornerstone of NHS plans to improve services, and the £60 million investment in perinatal mental health will mean women and their families get targeted, specialised support at one of the most important periods of life.”

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