Perinatal mental health provision failing women and their families

Wednesday 03 May 2017

Clare Bailey MLA has called for appropriate services for women experiencing perinatal mental health illness. The call comes during UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness week.

The perinatal period is between 22 weeks of gestation and seven days after birth. Mental health problems are relatively common in the perinatal period.

The South Belfast MLA said: “Up to 20% of women experience mental health problems at some point during pregnancy or after after giving birth. In Northern Ireland, we are failing women and their families through a lack of appropriate access to services for women experiencing these problems.

“The Belfast Trust provides an excellent, but small scale, specialist perinatal mental health service. Women from other parts of Northern Ireland are at a virtual loss if perinatal mental health problems arise.

“Furthermore, we have no regional mother and baby inpatient provision within Northern Ireland. This means that women must travel to England for treatment, isolating them from other children and family members.

“The bottom line is that we need a comprehensive strategy for perinatal mental health, including investment in preventative services.”

Clare Bailey MLA concluded:

“I call on the Department of Health to prioritise perinatal mental health and to implement the RQIA’s recommendations for Northern Ireland’s perinatal mental health services as a matter of urgency.”


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