An online mapping tool has been launched to help health professionals improve services for mothers with mental health problems during pregnancy or the year after birth.
Using the mapping tool, health professionals will be able to rate their local services against national standards to identify strengths and gaps where more work is needed.
The tool has seven themed areas, which set out key standards for the different services and processes that should ideally exist in each local area. It also pulls out cross cutting themes, like support for new fathers.
The innovation was developed by the National Lottery-funded Mums and Babies in Mind project and has been welcomed by the Institute of Health Visiting.
Dr Cheryll Adams, executive director of the institute, said she was delighted to support the launch of the mapping tool.
She said it would help local perinatal mental health leaders – many of whom were health visitors – to identify and address any concerns in their local support systems “to ensure that every mum and her family get the support that they need”.
Up to 20% of new mothers will experience a mental health problem and need support from a range of services, including GPs, midwives, health visitors and mental health services, said the institute.
Evidence shows that there are “shocking gaps” in services across the system, it noted. For example, there is no specialist mental health service in more than 40% of areas in England.
Dr Adams said: “We are also extremely pleased that the new tool includes recommendations for iHV ‘champions’ and specialist health visitors in every service, as well as mandatory training in perinatal mental health and infant mental health.
“This strengthens the work that the iHV has done and continues to deliver in perinatal mental health and infant mental health training and ensuring standards for health visitor professionals and the families they work with,” she said.