BACP has welcomed an announcement from Scottish Government for £50 million in new perinatal mental health support.

Jo Holmes, BACP’s children, young people and families lead, says it as an endorsement of the excellent work our members in Scotland are doing to support vulnerable mothers, fathers and families.

Scottish Government’s approach presents a stepped care approach with counselling at the heart of an early intervention model to help women, parents, families, and their partners address the issues that can cause mental ill health, particularly in the perinatal period.

Jo said: “Scotland is leading the way in this area with its family first centred model. Service users’ voices being heard loud and clear around the importance and necessity of accessing counselling at a time when it is most needed.

“BACP welcomes this announcement and encourages all areas of the UK to learn from Scotland’s lead, with its value and investment in paid counselling central to this report.”

The new money will provide access to treatment for an additional 11,000 women who experience mental health problems during and after their pregnancy.

Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20 per cent of women and covers a wide range of conditions. If left untreated, it can have long lasting effects on women and their families.

New models of service delivery will be introduced, including specialist care for acute perinatal mental health problems and improved infant mental health services.

A new needs assessment report, funded by the Scottish Government, has been published by the national Managed Clinical Network (MCN) for perinatal mental health. The report outlines recommendations to improve the provision of mental health care for expectant and new mothers and their families.

Availability and choice

Jo said that evidence demonstrates that the earlier we work with both mothers and fathers, the more likely we are to reduce mental health issues in early childhood, with the importance, and often challenges, of the parent/infant bond playing a central role in the therapeutic setting.

“Our next step is to look for opportunities for discussion to widen the availability and choice of counselling settings in Scotland to meet the target of 11,000 women per year having access to counselling provision,” she added.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Our priority is to drive up standards of perinatal metal health care for new mothers and their children right across Scotland.

"This new funding will identify mental health problems quickly, so they can be treated promptly. Women and their families should also expect services to treat them with dignity and respect.

"The impact is not just felt by women. The mental and physical health of fathers and other partners can also be affected following the birth of a new baby. We also know that between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of fathers may develop mental health problems in the perinatal period.”

Dr Roch Cantwell, lead clinician for the Perinatal Mental Health National Managed Clinical Network, said: “This report results from the enthusiasm, dedication and drive of women and their families who experience perinatal mental ill health, and the professionals who care for them across Scotland. 

“Perinatal mental illness can be devastating, but we know that there are effective treatments which can manage and, in some circumstances, prevent its onset.

“The needs assessment and service recommendations report gives us a template to establish services which will ensure that women, their infants and families, receive expert care wherever they live in Scotland and that children can have the best start in life.”

Read the needs assessment report.