The survey, conducted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), found that 41% of 2,000 women and men who responded experienced depression, anxiety or other mental health issues during pregnancy or after the birth of their first child.
46% of respondents said they considered finding help from a health care professional, with 26% claiming they were “too afraid” to ask.
The recent findings suggest that people are missing out on the mental health support they need because of the “ongoing stigma” that surrounds the subject.
Professional Lead for Midwifery and Women’s Health at the RCN, Carmel Bagness said: “There is still a stigma around mental health which must be addressed, but this stigma is even more pervasive when it comes to parents.”
According to the survey, 11% of parents did not know mental health support was available, with 64% of fathers saying they were never asked about their mental health during their partner’s pregnancy.
As a result of the survey, the RCN is now looking to raise awareness of maternal mental health for greater support and to remove the stigma attached to it.
“Too many parents worry that going through depression or anxiety means they will be deemed unfit parents, and this can be hugely damaging – an incorrect – assumption which is putting lives at risk and preventing people getting the support they deserve,” Carmel Bagness added.
Additional research by NCT also highlights that over half of mothers are concerned about maternal mental health, prompting the charity’s #BeyondBabyBlues campaign, in a bid to encourage more people to openly talk about it.
According to additional research by NCT, 35% of parents who phoned the charity’s helpline had not spoken to a health care professional about maternal mental health.
The research also revealed that 50% of mothers were worried about feeling depressed when their babies are eight months and three quarters old (on average), with 73% of fathers concerned about their partner’s mental health.
The social media campaign has gained celebrity recognition, such as well-known UK comedian Jo Brand.
“The time before and after giving birth can be really stressful for women. For many of us, it is not the straightforward, happy time we associate with the arrival of a new baby.
“This is why it’s essential for new mothers to have the right support at the right time. NCT’s research shows a huge number of mums are affected in some way by perinatal mental health issues and it’s no laughing matter.
“NCT’s longstanding experience and investment in research means they are an essential part of the fabric of childbirth in the UK from education to support and campaigning for improved services. This is why I’m supporting their #BeyondBabyBlues campaign,” Jo Brand said.
Midwives can support the #BeyondBabyBlues campaign by taking a picture of themselves holding hands with another person.
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