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In Northern Ireland, 1 in 10 women will experience mental ill health during pregnancy, or after giving birth.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in new mothers in the year post-partum.
Perinatal mental health has been a key focus of MindWise and Together For You alliance lobbying and campaigning. We are members of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, and support new and expectant mums like Sarah, above, through our Mums Wellness Project. We also support whole family mental health through our Family Wellness Project.
We have heard moving testimony from women like Alex at our All Party Group meetings, where she spoke of the difference specialist support in the Belfast Trust made to her recovery from post-partum psychosis. We have heard from some of the incredible grassroots campaigners and organisations who have been instrumental in getting this issue into the Assembly.
In January, MindWise, as the Secretariat of the All Party Group, issued a joint letter, supported by a consortium of organisations and campaigners in NI, to Health Minister Robin Swann to demand an update on the perinatal mental health business case, that would:
The Health Minister restated his commitment to perinatal mental health. Due to the coronavirus crisis, we are not able to meet to receive an update.
But perinatal mental health and its impact must not be forgotten. During this time, more women, children and families are struggling in isolation without access to specialist help and support. There is only one trust in the whole of Northern Ireland which provides specialist perinatal mental health care. A 10 Year Mental Health Strategy for Northern Ireland must urgently address this: the framework has already been developed and we cannot afford to let women and families down for another 10 years.
Visit the Maternal Mental Health Alliance website for resources in supporting mums' mental health during Covid-19.