NHS England maternal mental health support hubs for new and expectant mothers to open

on 06 April 2021

Maternal mental health support hubs will be opened by NHS England to support new, bereaved, and expectant mothers across the country.

26 hubs will be opened by April 2022, providing physical health checks and psychological therapy in one place.

Five years ago it was reported that 40% of England had no dedicated maternal mental health services. Over the last few years, some specialist services became available in the 44 local NHS areas.

The 26 hubs are expected to support 6,000 women within the first year of opening as part of the pilots and are part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

NHS England’s national mental health director, Claire Murdoch, said: “Every woman has a unique experience with pregnancy and motherhood and some will need extra support to cope with mental health issues that can range from anxiety to severe depression so I am delighted that mothers across all areas of the country will be able to access this help if they need it.

“I would encourage any mum who needs this support to come forward safe in the knowledge that her mental health and wellbeing are of paramount importance and should not feel ashamed of accessing the help she needs.”

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has welcomed the new maternal mental health hubs, especially during the pandemic when more mothers are experiencing mental health problems.

“The RCM has long been calling for maternal mental health support for pregnant women and new mothers, so we really welcome this announcement. For too long women with pregnancy related mental health problems have suffered with care and support often resembling a postcode lottery. Women suffered in silence and their problems deteriorated often so badly that they ended up needing care in a mother and baby unit miles away from their homes.

“It was only when crisis level had been reached that women are treated at these specialists’ units. These new hubs will hopefully address that and will enable women to get the support they need more locally and during their pregnancy,” RCM Executive Director Midwife, Birte Harlev-Lam said.

NHS expects to enable at least 66,000 women with moderate to severe mental health difficulties related to motherhood to access specialist care by 2023/24.