All pregnant women and new mothers can now access specialist mental health care in the area where they live, NHS England has announced.
Five years ago around 40% of the country had no access to specialist community perinatal mental health treatment in their local area, but this welcome change means there is now full geographical coverage.
The announcement follows the opening of four new mother and baby units, in Kent, Lancashire, East Anglia, and Devon, which will enable the most seriously ill women in every region to receive residential care without being separated from their babies.
Specialist community perinatal mental health teams can assess and care for women with perinatal mental health problems, as well as offering pre-conception advice for women with a current or previous serious mental health issues who are trying to become pregnant.
This expansion to the community teams forms part of wider NHS plans to transform perinatal services. By 2024 it is planned that an additional 54,000 women each year with moderate and complex to severe mental health difficulties will be able to receive the correct local care.
As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, further measures will include offering care for up to two years following birth rather than one, automatic assessment and care for the father or partner if they are also having mental health difficulties.
With one in four women suffering from mental health problems during and after pregnancy, we are pleased that the NHS is taking steps to address this important issue. You can read more about our mission to change the face of perinatal mental health and wellbeing and support all women on their journey through motherhood.