Maternal Mental Health – the Economic Case for Action

WestminsterOn Tuesday 21 October 2014 the MMHA’s report into “The costs of Perinatal Mental Health Problems” was launched in parliament.
 
Representatives of over 60 UK charities and health professional organisations met with MP’s from all parties, and people with lived experience, to highlight the unacceptable variation across the country in maternal mental health service provision and focus attention on the economic case for action.
 
Dr Dan Poulter MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department of Health, pledged commitment to implementing NICE guidelines across the country; highlighting the importance of specially trained Midwives and Health Visitors and the availability of Mother & Baby Units in all areas of the country, so that women do not have to travel great distances from their families to be admitted, or worse still, be separated from their baby on admission. 
The report, commissioned as part of the Everyone’s Business Campaign, shows that the burden of perinatal mental health problems cost the country 8.1 billion pounds – that is around £10,000 per birth, whereas fully implementing the NICE guidelines would cost around £400 per birth.
 
It was an important day for Maternal Mental Health Services. The report highlights the unwarranted variation in service provision for perinatal mental health across the country. It also offers the solution to this problem – spending a small amount now to implement NICE guidelines can save a lot of money and, more importantly, emotional distress later. 
Dr Giles Berrisford, Chair of Action on Postpartum Psychosis and Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist
 
In some areas of our country, we have world class care. It is progressive and second to none. In other areas, the care that women and their families receive is dreadfully inadequate  leading to family trauma at a time that should be full of so much hope.
Today felt like a special day for women, families and children. The case for change is gathering momentum. The voices of women and campaigners are becoming louder and gaining in confidence. It no longer feels that womens stories are falling on deaf ears. The economics, health service providers, academics, and those with lived experience are all giving the same message. Every area of the UK needs specialist perinatal mental health services.

It is not acceptable that we still lose young mothers to an illness that is eminently treatable and, when treated appropriately, has such good long-term outcomes for women, families and their children.
Dr Jessica Heron, Director of Action on Postpartum Psychosis and Senior Research Fellow at Birmingham University
  
The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) is a coalition of over 65 UK organisations committed to promoting: awareness among women and their families about mental health issues in pregnancy and postnatally; education for the professionals who work with them; and action in order to enable families to access to the services they need, wherever they live. The MMHA is funded by Comic Relief and the Everyone’s Business Campaign is hosted by Action on Postpartum Psychosis.
 
Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) is a collaborative project run by individuals with lived experience of Postpartum Psychosis, academic experts and health professionals. APP: provides information and peer support to women and families affected by PP; facilitates research; raises awareness of Postpartum Psychosis in the general public and health professionals; and campaigns for improved mental health services for women and families in the perinatal period. APP is a registered charity. 

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