Research project tackles perinatal mental health care in Wales

By Des Mannion

| 02 March 2018

A joint research project into perinatal mental health in Wales is hoping its recommendations will play a significant part in shaping the future of care for women and their families.

The NSPCC has joined Mind Cymru, The Mental Health Foundation and National Centre for Mental Health to carry out a project which maps out what services are available across Wales for women and their families experiencing perinatal mental health problems. It also explores what it is like for women and their families to live with and manage these conditions.

It's aims are to showcase the significant developments we have seen in perinatal mental health care in Wales, explore what is working well in supporting women and their families and also highlight the key challenges perinatal mental health services and women with lived experience face, including the variation and gaps in provision. The project also highlights what is needed to ensure that all women and their families affected are given the best possible care in Wales.

Through interviews and online surveys the project has explored the views of health professionals working in the perinatal period, third sector organisations delivering perinatal mental health services, women with experience of perinatal mental health problems and the partners of women with lived experience.

More than 130 people took part in the research. The research is now in its final stage and its findings and recommendations are currently being drafted.

The early findings have revealed three key areas of focus for perinatal mental health care in Wales - awareness, knowledge and skills; access to specialist support; and support for the families of those affected by perinatal mental health problems.

The research has shown that stigma surrounding perinatal mental health problems; a shortage of information for parents about the full range of conditions; and a lack of consistent training for health professionals means that women are not being identified and supported at the earliest opportunity. The variation in perinatal mental health services between health boards and an absence of specialist inpatient care, means that access to these services also remains a challenge. The research has also shown that perinatal mental health problems can have negative impacts upon wider family members, but there is little access to dedicated support for them in Wales.

Although there is much to be celebrated in the way that perinatal mental health care has developed in Wales over the past few years, the project shows there is still more work to do to support all women and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems.

If the vision in this report is implemented, over time Wales can lead the way in delivering high quality perinatal mental health care to future generations.

In late February, the project team met the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething AM, to discuss initial project findings and the recommendations that are being developed.

The final report will be launched at an event at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay on 12 June 2018. For more information, contact Publicaffairs.cymru@nspcc.org.uk

Des Mannion is head of service at NSPCC Cymru

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