£3m to boost mental health for mums

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Pregnant woman. Pic © Canwest News / Wikimedia Commons

More than £3 million is being invested to provide better mental health services for pregnant women and new mothers in Merseyside and Cheshire.

The money will be used to support women during pregnancy and in the first year after birth.

The Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) has been awarded £3.3m from the perinatal development fund set up by NHS England, to develop mental health services in local communities.

The services will be delivered through three local teams across the region, provided by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, Five Boroughs Partnership and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trusts.

The funding will be used to support women with serious mental health problems during pregnancy and during the first year after birth.

Jill Gilliam is a Business Development Manager for the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. She told JMU Journalism: “This is a highly important area of work. Suicide is the second leading cause of maternal death, after cardiovascular disease. Mental health problems not only affect the health of mothers but can also have longstanding effects on children’s emotional, social and cognitive development.

“Costs of perinatal mental ill health are estimated at £8.1 billion for each annual birth cohort, or almost £10,000 per birth, yet fewer than 15% of localities provide effective specialist community perinatal services for women with severe or complex conditions.”

According to the NHS Foundation Trust, women are more likely to suffer from mental health issues during the weeks before and after birth, than at any other point in their lives. More than 20% of 27,000 births in Cheshire and Merseyside each year involve some sort of mental health issue. These difficulties can have a long-term impact on both mother and child if left untreated.

YouTube: Maudsley NHS

The new budget sets out to improve early intervention in mental health care to prevent local women and their children from experiencing potential problems in the future.

Jill added:”The funding will enable us to develop a specialist perinatal mental health service for Cheshire and Merseyside STP residents which will include assessment and treatment of women.

“I am both excited and immensely proud to have been part of pulling this bid together and we look forward to the opportunity it affords to make a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of local women, babies and their families across Cheshire and Merseyside.”

The perinatal development fund has been set up by NHS England and is part of a £365m plan to expand support to an extra 30,000 women a year by 2020.