Perinatal Mental Health Services

Programme Leads: Victoria Glen-Day

The perinatal period is usually defined as the time between conceiving a baby until the end of the first postnatal year. 20% of women (or 1 in every 5 women) experience mental health problems during this time, making this a relatively common experience. Women may experience mental health problems prior to pregnancy and/or develop mental health problems during pregnancy or in the postnatal period.

Why is perinatal mental health so important?

It is vital that women receive treatment and support as early as possible. We know that if left untreated, mental illness can have a significant and long-lasting impact on women and their families.

The perinatal period is often a window of opportunity: treating mental health problems at this time prevents avoidable suffering and isolation, strengthens families, ensures children have a healthy start, has economic benefits and helps to prevent suicide – a leading cause of maternal death in the UK.

What support is available?

Women with mild to moderate mental health problems can be supported by a range of services in primary care, such as through GPs, mid-wives, health visitors, primary care psychology services – IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Treatment), and in places like children’s centres. There are many third sector organisations that also provide a range of support services.

Find out more about Perinatal Mental Health Services and download resources