NSPCC and MMHA calls for more maternal mental health support in Wales

on 29 June 2022

The NSPCC Cymru/Wales and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) are calling for more maternal mental health support for mothers in the country as the only maternal mental health specialist unit celebrates its one-year anniversary.

Uned Gobaith (Unit of Hope) Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) near Neath, that provides specialist inpatient care to mothers who experience mental health problems in pregnancy or after childbirth, has marked its first year of opening. It is the only unit in Wales that provides this care.

NSPCC, alongside the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), are now calling for more specialist units in Wales to ensure mothers can access maternal mental health services wherever they are in the country.

The organisations are calling on the Welsh Government to ensure there is clarity about permanent MBU provision in South Wales, and to fulfil its commitment to establishing a unit for families in North Wales.

Senior Policy Researcher at NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, said: “Mother and Baby Units can be a lifesaving service. The opening of Uned Gobaith was a really important step forward in providing vital inpatient support for women and their families in Wales experiencing severe perinatal mental health problems.

“While we must recognise the progress that has been made in establishing this interim mother and baby unit, gaps still remain and more must be done in Wales to make sure all parents can access specialist perinatal mental health services when they need it.”

An event was held at Uned Gobaith MBU to mark their one-year anniversary which brought together women their families who have used the service to share their stories and experiences on how the unit has supported them.

Campaign Manager at the MMHA, Karen Middleton, said: “It is crucial that all women who need specialist mental health treatment during pregnancy and the postnatal period can access this care. We ask that the Welsh Government listen to the first-hand accounts of staff and beneficiaries and make permanent, sustainable plans for families across Wales.”

Ward Manager at Uned Gobaith, Kirsten Pearce, added: “The journey that everyone has been on has been incredibly rewarding and inspirational: Seeing a new team of professionals from different disciplines come together to create and develop this amazing and much needed service in Wales, and seeing the patients who have spent time on the unit and have been able to stay with their babies continue their role as mum/parent without interruption and have made their way to recovery and home. The feedback we have received from these women, their families and other professionals involved in their care has been a truly powerful experience for us all.”