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Millions needed to look after mental health of pregnant and postnatal women

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) revealed that the NHS would need to spend £280 million a year to bring mental health care for pregnant and postnatal women to the recommended national guidance level.

The cost of perinatal mental health problems, a study by the Mental Health Network (MHN) says investment into perinatal mental health services will hugely benefit psychological wellbeing of mothers and families, as well as save the NHS £8.1 billion. 

MMHA's publication indicated more focus should be placed on mental wellbeing of women during and shortly after pregnancy. 

Furthermore, the report by the MHN suggested providers should implement the guidelines of National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on antenatal and postnatal care.

MHN chief executive, Stephen Dalton said: “Up to one in five women experience mental health problems in the perinatal period, yet these problems often go undetected and undiagnosed. This is costly to both human lives and society.

“It is important we talk about this issue as stigma and feelings about being a 'bad mother' often get in the way of people seeking help. Ask any Minister, policy maker or commissioner of NHS services and they'll tell you children are a priority. I don't doubt they believe it, but sadly the well-meaning rhetoric isn't translating into investment in services for some of the most vulnerable in our communities."

Also highlighted in their report, the MMHA showed that the cost to the public sector of perinatal mental health problems is five times greater than the required spending on services to prevent this.

Additionally, only 3% of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have a plan commissioning perinatal mental health services.

MHN's research, which was released in June 2014, revealed the economic cost of perinatal mental health illnesses including anxiety, depression and psychosis.