A new report commissioned by the UK’s Maternal Mental Health Alliance organization found that the best and most cost effective way to close the gaps when it comes to perinatal mental health care is to train midwives and health visitors to ask women about their mental health, assess their needs, and offer or arrange for psychological interventions. Doing this, they say, could have a net economic benefit of over half a billion pounds (approx. $859 million Canadian dollars).
This is a follow-up report to the one the MMHA released in 2014 which showed that perinatal mental illnesses carry a total long-term cost to society of more than £8.1 billion for each annual group of births in the UK.
That report spurred the UK government into action into creating specialist perinatal mental health services that are “transforming the healthcare and the lives of women with the most severe and complex maternal mental health problems and their babies.” While that investment took care of severe cases, there was still a gap in identifying mild to moderate cases early on during pregnancy and postpartum which is what this new report examines.
Canada does not have specialist perinatal mental health services and although mental health questions do exist on some provincial and territorial perinatal health records, many health care providers do not feel comfortable asking them because of a lack of timely access to perinatal mental health services. Our current government has promised to work on ensuring timely access to perinatal mental health services and we at the CPMHC are working hard to make sure that happens.
Take a look at the new MMHA UK report here: https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/economic-case-increasing-access-treatment-women-common-maternal-mental-health-problems-report-lse-2022-mmha.pdf