News

Funding approved for new Perinatal Mental Health Services in NI

Funding approved for new Perinatal Mental Health Services in NI

Published on Thursday, 14 January 2021

Posted in News

AWARE is delighted by the news that Health Minister Robin Swann has approved funding for specialist perinatal mental health services across Northern Ireland. This funding will see the development of a new Perinatal Mental Health Delivery Model, including specialist multi-disciplinary perinatal mental health teams in each of the five trust areas.

Mental health support for new and expectant mothers is currently provided in the community through general mental health services with only those living in the Belfast Trust able to access these. This new service will provide new multidisciplinary community perinatal mental health teams in each of the five Health and Social Care Trusts and will include a new stepped care model to ensure regional consistency. Perinatal mental health community teams will provide wrap-around maternity and mental health care to women in the perinatal period experiencing mental health difficulties.

Around one in five new mothers have a condition such as depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD or a psychotic disorder. And maternal suicide is still a leading cause of death in the first year after a woman gives birth. (Source: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/)

These services are needed now more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the mental health of new and expectant mothers across Northern Ireland who are particularly vulnerable due to the uncertainty that the virus poses for the health of both them and their infant.

This news comes after years of lobbying from local campaigners including the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, Lindsay Robinson (‘Have you seen that girl?’ blogger & Perinatal Mental Health Campaigner) and AWARE.

Lindsay Robinson said, “As a mum with lived experience of perinatal mental illness, I am absolutely thrilled and very relieved that these services are finally to be made available across Northern Ireland.”

Tom McEneaney, AWARE and Maternal Mental Health Alliance Regional Coordinator, added: “This fantastic announcement is a great step forward in providing much-needed specialist services for women and their families throughout Northern Ireland. “It is recognition for all the many people who have campaigned for many years for this development.”

AWARE offers a free perinatal mental health programme for new and expectant parents. Check out our Mood Matters Parent & Baby course here. We have some upcoming courses!