Urgent equity needed for women in Northern Ireland suffering with perinatal mental health conditions' says RCM

on 09 April 2019 Perinatal Mental Health Northern Ireland

Today (Tuesday April 9th) despite the political stalemate in Northern Ireland, all political parties have co-signed a consensus statement led by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) committing to improve perinatal mental health services for women in Northern Ireland.

The statement outlines their intent to work together and urgently requests the commitment of investment and ring-fencing of funds required to ensure mums, babies, families and communities affected by perinatal mental health problems in Northern Ireland get the care and support they need and deserve.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and other Royal Colleges have also co-signed a letter to the Department of Health, reinforcing the MMHA’s calls for specialist services in each of the five trusts in Northern Ireland along ,with the provision of one regional mother and baby unit.

Commenting, Karen Murray the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Director for Northern Ireland said; “Hundreds of women every year in Northern Ireland are affected by perinatal mental health problems and we know when left untreated maternal mental health can decline further and have devastating effects on the health of women, their babies and families.

“Unlike England, Wales and Scotland who have ring-fenced definitive investment for perinatal mental health services, Northern Ireland continues to have none nor do women have access to a designated mother and baby unit.

“We need urgent equity for women in Northern Ireland suffering with perinatal mental health conditions and we must act now to prevent more women and their families from suffering unnecessarily.

“For midwives in Northern Ireland, it’s incredibly difficult because they can recognise women who are struggling with aspects of their mental health and can care for and support them, but the trouble is the absence of specialist services that they can refer women to and that is incredibly frustrating for midwives.

“We now have an opportunity to potentially see a service transformation that will improve the lives of mothers in Northern Ireland ensuring that perinatal mental health services are accessible in the community to those that need them most. Having the right services in the right place at the right time can make a huge difference to women, their partners and babies in the first 1,000 days.

“The RCM supports the publication of this consensus statement and is committed to supporting the Maternal Mental Health Alliance's campaign to improve perinatal mental health services for women in Northern Ireland."

Read RCM’s report – Every Mother Must Get The Help They Need.


Notes to editors

The Consensus Statement on the improvement of Perinatal Mental Health services in Northern Ireland was signed by:

  • DUP - Arlene Foster MLA, Party Leader DUP
  • Sinn Fein - Michelle O'Neill MLA, Vice President Sinn Fein
  • SDLP - Nichola Mallon MLA, Deputy Party Leader SDLP
  • UUP - Robin Swann MLA, Party Leader UUP & Robbie Butler MLA, UUP Mental Health Spokesperson
  • Alliance Party of NI - Paula Bradshaw MLA, Health Spokesperson
  • TUV - Jim Allister MLA, Party Leader TUV
  • Green Party in NI - Clare Bailey, MLA, Party Leader Green Party
  • People Before Profit - Gerry Carroll MLA

For more information on the Consensus Statement visit: www.maternalmentalhealthalliance.org

About The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA)

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), is a coalition of over 90 organisations with a shared vision to see all women across the UK get consistent, accessible and quality care and support for their mental health during pregnancy and in the year after giving birth.

The Everyone’s Business Campaign

The MMHA’s Everyone’s Business Campaign calls for all women throughout the UK who experience perinatal mental health problems to receive the care they and their families need, wherever and whenever they need it.

What are ‘specialist perinatal mental health services’?

This term refers to specialist perinatal mental health community teams and inpatient mother and baby units where mum and baby are cared for together when hospitalisation is required.