One of the biggest parent charities in the UK is calling for better mental health support for parents in Wales and is urging the National Assembly to reinstate the country’s one and only designated Mother and Baby unit.
NCT, who support parents through their first one thousand days, say that specialist units are important because they allow women with severe mental health problems to stay with their infant whilst receiving treatment.
Parents in Wales currently have to travel to Bristol or Birmingham, or chose to have to seek specialist treatment away from their baby.
Mother and Baby units are vitally important as they enable mums and babies to remain together at a crucial time in the bonding process even when the mother is seriously ill. New mothers with severe mental health concerns are currently being placed in a no-win situation in Wales. They must either travel – sometimes hundreds of miles – for treatment with their new baby or be treated nearer to home but separated from their baby.
This situation is unacceptable and the availability of adequate mental health support for new parents must be made an urgent priority.
Research from Mind Cymru suggests that 1 in 3 parents in Wales suffer from anxiety or depression in the first year after having a baby.
Over 25 mums and dads are expected to be attending an event at Tŷ Hywel to share their experiences of perinatal mental health issues with Assembly Members with the aim of emphasising the importance of adequate mental health services for expectant and new parents.
It’s vital that we support mental wellbeing before, during and after pregnancy and that services are available for women who have mental health problems at this important time in their lives.
Last year we announced new perinatal mental health services will be set up across Wales and services are developing well with over 30 new specialist staff being recruited backed by £1.5m of new investment. The new community-based specialist services in every Welsh health board will help to improve mental health outcomes for women with perinatal illnesses, their babies and their families. The new services are already offering advice and practical support for mothers who have mental health problems.
It is very rare indeed for a mother to need to be admitted to hospital with her baby, however if those circumstances the Welsh Health Specialist Services work with local services to find a bed as close to home as practical and the new community services can now support the mother’s return home more quickly to their families.