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Perinatal mental health support to be expanded to partners of mothers

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Targeted mental health support will be made available on the NHS to the partners of new and expectant mothers, it has been announced.

The expansion of perinatal mental health services will be set out in the forthcoming NHS long-term plan, due to be published this month.

“These days dads and partners are rightly expected to be more hands on and NHS mental health services also need to step up”

Simon Stevens

The move, hailed as “landmark” by NHS England, will mean partners struggling from anxiety, depression or more severe disorders such as psychosis will be automatically offered a mental health assessment and sign-posted to professional support if needed.

Help on offer includes peer-support, behavioural couples therapy and other family and parenting interventions, and psychological talking therapy.

The announcement is part of NHS England’s plan to have specialist community perinatal mental health teams in place to cover the whole country by April 2019.

simon stevens confed 1

simon stevens confed 1

Source: Neil O’Connor

Simon Stevens

Teams will be made up of nurses, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, peer support workers and administrative staff.

They will complement the already embedded Adult Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

NHS England also plans to expand the current mother and baby unit capacity by 49% to 160 beds for severely mentally unwell mothers and their babies.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “These days dads and partners are rightly expected to be more hands on and NHS mental health services also need to step up and support families at times of extreme stress and anxiety.” 

“The NHS has made huge strides forward in improving mental health care for new mums”

Claire Murdoch

NHS England claims latest evidence shows the prevalence rates of anxiety and depression symptoms in men in the first six months after the birth of a baby is up to one in 10.

Meanwhile, one in five women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy and the first year after birth.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, said: “Any form of mental ill health during pregnancy, labour or early parenthood is a huge concern and it doesn’t just disrupt life for mums but also for dads, partners and the wider family.

claire murdoch

claire murdoch

Claire Murdoch

“The NHS has made huge strides forward in improving mental health care for new mums and ensuring their partners are properly supported too is the next logical step,” she added. 

Ms Murdoch said the expansion of services would support NHS England’s ambition to give every family the best possible start in life.

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