Investing in mental health care for pregnant women saves lives says the RCM
Lives can be saved if there is proper investment in better support for pregnant and postnatal women with mental health problems, according to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), following the publication of a report by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The report found that mental health support for women with mental health issues remains patchy across the UK and is still failing to meet their needs. Adapting how care is delivered for women experiencing common maternal mental health problems, and additional investment in midwives and other areas, could save the UK nearly £0.5bn pounds over 10 years.
Birte Harlev-Lam, Executive Director, Midwife, at the RCM, said: “We have long argued that mental health must be given the same priority as physical health. Bearing in mind maternal mental health problems are the leading cause of maternal death in the first postnatal year, it is a scandal that this is still not the case. Despite some investment in mental health support for pregnant women, we are still a long way off where we need to be across the UK. Failing to heed the recommendations in this report is failing women, failing their families and failing the staff who strive to care for them.
“Midwives are often pivotal to spotting mental health problems in women and signposting them to treatment and support. If they were better supported with the right levels of investment and support outlined in this report, they could do even more and potentially save lives.”
England remains 2000 midwives short of the numbers needed and the report calls for more midwives over and above that figure, along with increases in other UK countries. They also say that additional mental health training for midwives and increases in specialist services are needed across the UK.
The RCM has consistently called for more training and more specialist midwives and services to support perinatal mental health, highlighting gaps and calling for greater investment.
Birte Harlev-Lam added: “What we need now is a government brave enough to look beyond the right now of election politics and to show that we really care about these women and that we value their lives and wellbeing. If that is not enough, and that only hard facts and hard cash can change some political minds, doing this will save a lot of money. Investment makes moral sense, and it makes economic sense.”
To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].
Notes to Editors:
To read the full MMHA/LSE report visit The economic case for increasing access to treatment for women with common maternal mental health problems | Maternal Mental Health Alliance.
Read the RCM’s guide on Maternal Emotional Wellbeing and Infant Development at https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/2342/maternal-emotional-wellbeing.pdf.
The RCM’s Standards and Competency Framework for Specialist Maternal Mental Health Midwives can be read at https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/2340/caring-for-women-with-mental-health-difficulties.pdf (RCM members only).
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.