Why VIEWdigital is supporting the call for specialist services for maternal mental health

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 By VIEW editor Brian Pelan

Women in a quarter of the UK still can’t access vital maternal mental health services.

The next issue of VIEW will look at maternal mental health in Northern Ireland. Our guest editor is maternal mental health campaigner Lindsay Robinson (www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com/). This issue is being supported by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.

New maps launched yesterday by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Everyone’s Business Campaign show that pregnant women and new mums in a quarter of the UK still cannot access lifesaving specialist perinatal mental health services, which meet national guidelines.

Ms Robinson said: “It’s very encouraging to see the changes in England and Wales demonstrated on the maps, which reflect significant improvement and targeted investment for specialist services, in both areas.

“Unfortunately, the map for Northern Ireland remains unchanged. This is hugely significant.

“In reality, this means that 80 percent of N.I. still does not have access to specialist perinatal mental health services and there is still no Mother and Baby Unit (MBU). This must change.

“Specialist community perinatal mental health services are vital for the health of our mums and families in Northern Ireland, timely access to services can make all the difference. These must be made available – lives depend on them.

“We therefore continue to call for the necessary funds to be urgently released in Northern Ireland, ensuring women, infants, families and communities get the support they need and deserve.”

Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said: “Over ten years ago national guidelines said that specialist perinatal mental health services should be available for all women who need them. This still hasn’t happened. We want to celebrate the new perinatal services that have been set up, but these maps show that there is still an urgent need for change on the ground. For women and families to be able to access specialist services, we need to see funding across all four nations of the UK. The job is not yet done. Women and families across the UK need this map to turn green.”

A spokesperson for the Maternal Mental Health Alliance said: “In order to correct the gaps that currently exist across all nations of the UK, the Everyone’s Business Campaign is calling for all areas of need to receive the necessary funding to end the postcode lottery for specialist services. Commitment at both the national and local level is needed to turn the map green and to ensure these funds actually result in lifesaving services for women and babies everywhere.”

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