New mothers' mental health needs
Miriam Donaghy, the CEO and founder of MumsAid, discusses the charity's work delivering services that support the mental health needs of new mothers
Howard et al (2014) stated that ‘there is no time in the lifespan that the statement “there is no health without mental health” rings truer than in the perinatal period’. It is estimated that perinatal mental health conditions cost around £8.1 billion per year in the UK. This equates to just under £10 000 for every singleton birth in the country, and around 72% of that cost relates to the adverse impact on the child (Bauer et al, 2014). However, for decades, maternal mental health has been a neglected area, with a lack of specialist therapeutic support for mothers and babies. Compounded by the stigma that prevents many women from seeking help, alongside fears that admitting to struggling may cause a baby to be taken away, the result has been that ‘about half of all cases of perinatal depression and anxiety go undetected and many of those which are detected fail to receive evidence-based forms of treatment’ (Bauer et al, 2014). With the rising demand and growing waiting lists created during the COVID-19 pandemic, this number is now likely to be much higher.
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