Why our work is vital

Up to 1 in 5 mums are affected by mental health difficulties. Many will hide or play down the severity of their illness. If untreated these difficulties can have a life-changing impact for them and their families. Early intervention and specialist support are critical for improving the outcomes for mothers and their babies.

1 in 5 mums are affected by mental health difficulties

  • An estimated 20% of women develop perinatal mental health problems during pregnancy and the first year after having a baby.¹
  • Mental health issues affect two-thirds (67%) of pregnant young mums aged between 16 and 24 years.²
  • 1 in 8 new mums are embarrassed to admit their true feelings due to the stigma surrounding perinatal mental health.³

Mental health difficulties can develop suddenly and include mild, moderate or severe anxiety and depression, adjustment disorders and PTSD. These conditions affect the way the mother responds to her baby and impact a child’s development in capabilities such as empathy, trust, application and self-control.

“It’s hard to convey the enormous relief I felt to find a counsellor who would take the time to get to know me, Mums Aid is a vital service for mums in difficulty.” Eleanor

The cost to society of perinatal mental health problems

The human cost of mental health issues in the perinatal period (during and after pregnancy) is incalculable. The economic cost to the UK runs into billions of pounds annually:

  • The London School of Economics reports perinatal mental health conditions cost society £8.1bn each year – just under £10,000 for every single birth in the country.
  • 72% of that cost relates to the adverse impact on the child.

With around half of all cases of perinatal depression and anxiety undetected, these 2014 figures significantly underestimate the full scale and cost of maternal mental health to society.

Benefits for all

The onset or escalation of maternal mental health problems can often be prevented by:

  • early identification;
  • specialist management of the mother’s condition; and
  • informed choices about her treatment.

These interventions are key to improving the outcomes for women and enhancing their children’s long-term resilience, leading to a positive impact for their families, communities and society more broadly.

 

 

¹ Bauer, A., Parsonage, M., Knapp, M., Iemmi, V. and Adelaja, B. (2014) Costs of perinatal mental health problems

² National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) 2019

³ The Royal College of Midwives 2016