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Mental health care for new mothers 'inconsistent'

More investment is needed to address variations in mental health care for women during pregnancy and after giving birth, an assembly committee has found.

The committee has called for more mental health help for women in late stages of pregnancy and after birth. Credit: PA

The Children, Young People and Education Committee said although it welcomes specialist health teams, the lack of specialist in-patient care within Wales for those with the most severe symptoms is 'unacceptable.'

The committee heard from women in Wales who had experiences with perinatal mental ill health.

It was very hard to get help when you’re mentally poorly. We are all in different geographical areas and the ways in which we all had to try to get help were completely different.

– Staci Sylvan, Camarthenshire
50-80
The committee heard evidence that 50-80 women need admission and Wales' only unit closed in 2013.

For the majority of women, care in a community setting will be most appropriate. However there is still more to do to ensure that women who need specialist support in the community get the right care and we are committed to monitoring closely Welsh Government progress to ensure that services are as good as they can be.

– Lynne Neagle, Committee Chair

The committee has also recommended prioritising quicker access to psychological therapies for women.

They said they want the Welsh Government to outline how it expects the lack of psychological support for neonatal and bereaved parents to be addressed and to raise awareness of the issue among public and health professionals.

In response to the recommendations the Welsh Government said it has been developing options to improve the service in Wales.

We welcome the committee's inquiry into perinatal mental health care in Wales and its report, which we will respond to in due course.

The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee has been developing options this year to improve perinatal mental healthcare in Wales and we are committed to providing specialist inpatient care in Wales.

We have been providing £1.5m to develop community perinatal mental healthcare teams in Wales since 2015-16 and there are now community teams in each health board in Wales.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson