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Mother with baby

Maternal mental health

Date published: 
17 March 2016

Around 130,000 women gave birth in London in 2015.

Good health during pregnancy and in the period following birth is critical to the ongoing health of both mother and child.  It is important that ante- and postnatal care takes a holistic view on the health and wellbeing of pregnant women.

The London Assembly Health Committee has written to the Mayor of London with a number of concerns surrounding maternal mental health, as the mental health needs of a significant proportion of London’s women are not being met.

The letter found:

  • The failure to detect and treat women with severe perinatal mental health issues are profound - the immediate postnatal weeks carry the highest risk of severe and psychotic illness of any time in human lives and suicide is the second leading cause of maternal death.
  • Maternal mental health problems are detectable, treatable, and in many cases, predictable and preventable through early intervention.
  • Despite NICE guidance on both services and treatment, only 10 London boroughs have the recommended levels of community services available. In Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Ealing, Enfield and Haringey women have no access to expert information or advice.

The Health Committee has urged the Mayor to ensure that perinatal mental health is fully considered in the London Health Board’s ongoing work and that he uses his influence with local government leaders to encourage shared learning across Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Download the letter below.