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New mums mental health guidelines updated.

Pregnant women and new mothers who are at high risk of developing mental health problems should get extra support claims the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Their updated guidance on antennal and postnatal mental healthcare outlines who they consider to be 'at risk' patients and the various drugs suitable for treatment.

Around 12% of women experience depression and 13% experience anxiety at some point, many women will experience both.

Professor Louise Howard, Professor in Women's Mental Health at King's College London and chair of the group that developed the guideline, said:“This guideline aims to highlight the full range of mental health problems that can occur during pregnancy and after childbirth, and ensure they are identified and treated promptly.

“These disorders are common but treatable and we hope that this guideline will help women get comprehensive holistic assessment and treatment quickly so that pregnancy, and the period after childbirth, are times of optimal mental and physical health”. 

However, survey commissioned by charity NCT has shown significant gaps in the provisions of mental health in new and future mothers raising questions as to these new guidelines will be put into place.

Thesurvey of 186 clinical commissioning groups in England found that only 3% have a perinatal mental health strategy. Out of the 97% with no strategy, 60% had no plans to put one in place.

Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser, NCT, said:  “NCT welcomes these guidelines but we question how they will be put into practice given the huge gaps in perinatal mental health services, exposed by our recent research. The Government and NHS need to take immediate action to broaden service provision and ensure it is consistent.


“It is often difficult for new parents to talk openly about their mental health and this can be damaging for families. In extreme cases, this can lead to the loss of life. We urgently need to see an increase in specialist services, such as mothers and baby units, and better training for health practitioners to make sure no new parent suffers alone.”