Lives can be saved if there is investment in better support for pregnant and postnatal women with mental health problems, according to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), following the publication of a new report by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The report found that mental health support for women with mental health issues remains patchy across the UK. Adapting how care is delivered for women experiencing common maternal mental health problems, and additional investment in midwives and other areas, could save the UK nearly £0.5bn over ten years.
Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director, Midwife, at the RCM, said:
“We have long argued that mental health must be given the same priority as physical health. Midwives are often pivotal to spotting mental health problems in women and signposting them to treatment and support. If they were better supported with the right levels of investment and support outlined in this report, they could do even more and potentially save lives.”
England remains 2000 midwives short of the numbers needed and the report calls for more midwives over and above that figure, along with increases in other UK countries. They also say that additional mental health training for midwives and increases in specialist services are needed across the UK.
The RCM has consistently called for more training and more specialist midwives and services to support perinatal mental health, highlighting gaps and calling for greater investment.