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BPS welcomes new report on mental health problems during and after pregnancy

22 February 2017

The British Psychological Society has strongly welcomed 'Women's Voices', a new report released today.

The British Psychological Society strongly welcomes the report ‘Women’s Voices’, released today by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists with the support of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, which found that only 7% of women with mental health problems during or after pregnancy are referred to specialist care.

More than 2,300 women, all of whom had given birth during the last five years in the UK, were surveyed about their views on perinatal mental health problems, engagement with healthcare professionals and the quality of care that they received.

This survey revealed a number of issues relating to mental health during and after pregnancy, including the low rate of specialist referral and a lack of consensus about whether medication was necessary and the most appropriate type to be used.

Women who did report experiencing a maternal mental health condition also highlighted the long waits that can be suffered, with 38% of those who were referred having to wait for more than four weeks to be seen.

Issues suffered by women’s partners were also revealed, with 12% reporting that they experienced a mental health problem during or after their partner’s pregnancy but were provided with little support.

The report highlights the need for timely access to specialist perinatal mental health services and the requirement for these to be designed specifically for the particular needs of women before, during, and after birth.

Professor Peter Kinderman, President of the British Psychological Society, said:

“We already know that untreated postnatal mental health problems are estimated to cost more than £8.1 billion each year. We need support for more psychologists within maternity and specialist perinatal mental health teams so that they are able to provide the input required. The recommendations of the report for improved services are particularly important.”

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