The report – entitled The costs of perinatal mental health problems – finds that:
Significantly, the report also finds that the NHS would need to spend just £337 million a year to bring perinatal mental health care up to the level recommended in national guidance.
The report is part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Everyone’s Business campaign, which calls on national Government and local health commissioners to ensure that all women throughout the UK who experience perinatal mental health problems receive the care they and their families need, wherever and whenever they need it.
There is clear guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and other national bodies on the treatment of mental illness during and after pregnancy. Yet the current provision is best described as patchy, with significant variations in coverage around the country that include the following:
“Perinatal mental health problems are common and costly,” said Dr Alain Gregoire, Maternal Mental Health Alliance chair. “They affect up to 20% of women at some point during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth and are a major public health issue impacting on both women and baby. The good news is that women recover when they get the right treatment. It is vital that all women, wherever they live get the specialist help they need.”
Emily Slater, Everyone’s Business campaign manager, has urged authorities to act, saying: “This report shows there can be no more excuses: national and local authorities, commissioners and governments must act now to ensure specialist perinatal mental health services are available throughout the UK. Only then can we expect to fully reduce any tragically avoidable human and economic costs.”