Mental health funding boost for pregnant women and new mothers

Mental ill health can affect women during and after pregnancy, but support is not always consistent.

NHS bodies across the South West are to receive extra funding to provide more support for pregnant women and new mothers with severe mental health problems.

NHS England is dividing £40m between 20 areas across the country.

The money is part of its drive to help 30,000 more women by 2021 - it will help pay for more specialist nurses and psychiatrists to provide care to women in their homes and in maternity units.

It comes after an exclusive report has revealed that more than one in two women with postnatal depression in the West Country have thought of taking their own life.

While dealing with one of the most stressful points of their lives, many new mothers who are severely ill with a postnatal illness are being forced to travel more than a hundred miles for treatment.

This funding has been welcomed by pre- and post-natal charities as a step towards making sure women have more local support.

NHS England has commissioned four more Mother and Baby Units. Credit: ITV West Country

As well as funding doctors, nurses and mother and baby units, the money will also go towards providing buddying and telephone support from other mums who have had similar issues.

Donna Collins - Managing Director for the postnatal depression charity PANDAS - says the buddying system closely mirrors the charity's own work.

A survey commissioned by PANDAS earlier this year found that peer support can be essential to recovery.

Which regions will benefit?

  • Bristol

The funding will help expand a recently established small team into a wider area, introducing new electronic records to support shared care.

It will also help develop community support groups, a buddying system and telephone support.

  • Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group will be developing a new service, supported by the perinatal mental health clinical network, and collaborating with the Mums and Babies in Mind project led by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.

  • Cornwall

Will allow more staff to be hired into the current team to make a network of specialist care available across the county.

The money will also increase capacity to lead educational programmes and raise awareness.

  • Devon

New Devon CCG and South Devon and Torbay CCG's will receive a share of the funding.

Working together, they'll expand the existing service and training programme, and developing peer and family support through partnerships with the voluntary sector.

NHS England says another £20m will be shared out in 2017.