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Every expectant or new mother in Northern Ireland must be able to get the mental health support they need, when they need it.
That's why we're delighted that funding for perinatal mental health services for new and expectant mums in Northern Ireland has been approved this week by Health Minister Robin Swann.
The services will provide new community multidisciplinary perinatal mental health teams in each of the five Trust areas. They will also include a new stepped care model to ensure regional consistency.
Many thousands of women across Northern Ireland are set to benefit from the services, which MindWise has campaigned for over a number of years, alongside other members of the Together For You Alliance and Maternal Mental Health Alliance, and some incredible grassroots campaigners such as Lindsay Robinson.
To date, perinatal services in NI have lagged behind the rest of the UK with no specialist community teams in four of the five trusts here and no Mother and Baby unit. Only Belfast Trust offers limited specialist perinatal mental health services.
That means 80% of women in NI have had no access to specialist perinatal mental health services.
We're members of the All Party Group On Mental Health, which brings mental health developments to the NI Assembly. At All Party meetings, we've heard of mums being separated from children when they're admitted to hospital with post-partum mental illness. And we've heard how, tragically, suicide is the main cause of death in women in the year after childbirth.
We’ve been pushing for years for a specialist perinatal mental health service for NI along with the Together For You Alliance which brings together nine leading mental health organisations.
In January 2020, as Secretariat of the All Party Group on Mental Health, MindWise issued a joint letter to Health Minister Robin Swann. The letter requested that recommendations set out in the Perinatal Mental Health Business Case were implemented, such as:
The funding and services being offered now address those issues. We’re thrilled the Health Minister has listened to our calls to make these vital services available for women across Northern Ireland. They are needed more than ever, with Covid-19 putting increased stress on pregnant women and new mums.
Thank you to all the grassroots campaigners and organisations who have joined us in campaigning to get these services introduced! It will truly will make a difference to so many.
MindWise supports new and expectant mums through our Mums Wellness Project. We also support whole family mental health through our Family Wellness Project.