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.
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 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:
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.
The onset or escalation of maternal mental health problems can often be prevented by:
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.
² National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) 2019
³ The Royal College of Midwives 2016