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33 % rise in women seeking perinatal mental health support since 2022

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One in five new and expectant mothers may be affected by perinatal mental health conditions

In a significant uptick reflecting growing awareness and acceptance of mental health challenges among new and expectant mothers, NHS records reveal a striking surge in specialist support sought by over 57,000 new mothers over the past year.

This figure represents a substantial 33 per cent increase compared to the 2022 data findings indicating a heightened demand for perinatal mental health services in England.

Last year, the number of women accessing perinatal mental health services was 43,053 individuals.

Specifically, between March 2023 and February 2024, a total of 57,170 women accessed these services, representing a significant rise from the 43,053 women who received support between March 2022 and February 2023.

Contextually, this surge in demand is significant given that approximately 600,000 women give birth in England each year.

Research underscores the prevalence of perinatal mental illness, affecting up to one in five new and expectant mothers, and spanning a diverse range of conditions.

Under the NHS Long Term Plan, the government has made provisions of specialist mental health teams in every part of England facilitating access to crucial support services for women experiencing moderate to severe or complex mental health needs during pregnancy and childbirth. 

Part of the care and support provided to new mums is the NHS mental health support team offers comprehensive assistance, including guidance on nurturing the parent-child relationship.

Additionally, a thorough mental and physical health check-up within six weeks of giving birth is also part of the support, ensuring that potential mental health concerns are identified and addressed early on.

The health agency warns that if left untreated, these issues can have lasting repercussions for both the mother and child, underlining the significance of timely intervention and support.

Encouraging women to seek support, Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s National Mental Health Director, emphasised the importance of early intervention in addressing mental health difficulties during the perinatal period.

“Becoming a new mum is an incredibly special moment, but it can also be a very stressful and overwhelming experience”, she said.

“The NHS wants to make sure that those suffering with any mental health difficulty such as post-traumatic stress or severe depression get the support they need.”

She highlighted the expertise of specialist teams across the country, urging pregnant women and new mothers to reach out for assistance without hesitation.

Additional investments are being channelled into service developments, with a focus on improving access to evidence-based therapies and bolstering community care for women up to 24 months after giving birth.

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