A study by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has found that just 7% of women with mental health problems, during or after pregnancy, are referred to a specialist.
Over 2,300 women who had given birth in the last five years responded to the study, providing an insight into the experiences of mental health care for pregnant women and new mothers.
81% who took part in the study claimed they had at least one episode of mental health problems during and after pregnancy, with over two thirds saying they had experienced low mood and almost half said they suffered anxiety.
The report also revealed that just 7% of women were referred to a specialist after reporting their maternal mental health condition.
38% who were referred to specialist care said it took over four weeks to be seen, with some saying they waited up to a year.
Commenting on the maternal mental health figures from RCOG, Professional Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Janet Fyle, said: “The results of this survey from the RCOG are shocking and truly show the ‘postcode lottery’ of maternal mental health provision across England and Wales.
“We cannot ignore the voices of the women in this survey, because they represent the many voices of women who suffer mental ill health in pregnancy and after. Their voices and experiences of care must be listened to as a matter of urgency.”
Regionally, referral figures varied significantly, with one region seeing an 8% referral rate in comparison to 50% in another region.
12% of women said their partners who experienced mental health problems during and after pregnancy received little or no help at all.
The RCOG’s report and can found on their website here.
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