Pregnant Scottish women get funds boost for mental health issues

Women experiencing mental health problems while pregnant, or as a new mother, should be able to access better treatment after the Scottish Government announced a £50 million cash boost for services.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to the mother and baby unit at St John's Hospital in Livingston
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to the mother and baby unit at St John's Hospital in Livingston

The new money will provide access to treatment for an additional 11,000 women who experience mental health problems during and after their pregnancy.

Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20 per cent of women, and if left untreated, it can have long lasting effects on women and their families.

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Announcing the funding while visiting the mother and baby unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Our priority is to drive up standards of perinatal metal health care for new mothers and their children right across Scotland.

“Mental illness during pregnancy and during the first year after birth is really common, affecting up to one in five women.

“This new funding will identify mental health problems quickly so they can be treated promptly. Women and their families should also expect services to treat them with dignity and respect.”

She added: “The impact is not just felt by women. The mental and physical health of fathers and other partners can also be affected following the birth of a new baby. We also know that between five and ten per cent of fathers may develop mental health problems in the perinatal period.”

The money will be spent on introducing new models of service delivery, including specialist care for acute perinatal mental health problems as well as improving infant mental health services.

The announcement comes just a day after the Scottish Government was accused of presiding over a mental health crisis as more than 5000 children and young people were not seen within the 18 week target time last year.

A new needs assessment report, funded by the Scottish Government, has also been published today by the national Managed Clinical Network for perinatal mental health.

Dr Roch Cantwell, lead clinician for the Perinatal Mental Health National Managed Clinical Network, said: “This report results from the enthusiasm, dedication and drive of women and their families who experience perinatal mental ill health, and the professionals who care for them across Scotland.

“Perinatal mental illness can be devastating, but we know that there are effective treatments which can manage and, in some circumstances, prevent its onset.

“The needs assessment and service recommendations report gives us a template to establish services which will ensure that women, their infants and families, receive expert care wherever they live in Scotland and that children can have the best start in life.”

The Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board, which is chaired by Hugh Masters, will oversee and manage the £50 million investment.