First Minister announces £50m to improve mental health support for new mothers

More than £50 million will be invested to improve access to mental health services for expectant and new mothers, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

It is estimated the funding will help provide access to treatment for an additional 11,000 women who experience mental health problems during and after pregnancy.

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.

Ms Sturgeon made the announcement on a visit to the mother and baby unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston on Wednesday.

She said: “Our priority is to drive up standards of perinatal metal healthcare 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.

“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.”

Under the plans, new models of service delivery will be introduced, including specialist care for acute perinatal mental health problems and improved infant mental health services.

A new needs assessment report, funded by the Scottish Government, has been published by the national Managed Clinical Network (MCN) for perinatal mental health.

It outlines recommendations to improve the provision of mental healthcare for expectant and new mothers and their families.

Dr Roch Cantwell, lead clinician for the Perinatal Mental Health National Managed clinical Network (PMHN), 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.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Donald MacLeod / Scottish Government / PA Wire.