Press Release – Scotland Lags Behind Other Parts Of UK When It Comes To Caring For Mothers With Maternal Mental Illness

Maternal Mental Health Alliance have developed a map of the UK which gives a clear picture of the state of services for women with perinatal mental illness and their families.
The last snapshot of practice in managing postnatal mental health disorders in Scotland was captured by NSPCC Scotland and Maternal Mental Health Scotland over three years ago.

Perinatal mental illnesses, such as post-natal depression, affect 20% of women in Scotland and, if untreated, can have a devastating impact on women and their families. Despite this, the new map shows that there remains considerable gaps in services to support families affected by perinatal mental illness in Scotland.

There has been very limited investment in specialist services in Scotland despite an NSPCC Scotland and Maternal Mental Health Scotland report three years ago identifying that the majority of women in Scotland are unable to access the support they need, when they need it.

Professionals across health, education and social care are calling on the Scottish Government and NHS boards to address what they call, “the fragmented and inadequate level of health care” for women before and after their babies are born.

Campaigners are calling on the Government to make use of the UK Government funding it has received to address the gaps in Scotland. They also want health boards to implement the national clinical guideline on perinatal mental health published almost seven years ago which is still not being followed in many areas.

Health Boards have demonstrated overwhelming support for full implementation of the SIGN guideline on the management of perinatal mood disorder but they are clear that they need strategic leadership and investment from the Scottish Government, in line with that being delivered in England and Wales where perinatal mental health has become a political priority.

Clare Thompson experienced anxiety following the birth of her daughter and spent five weeks receiving specialist care in a Mother and Baby Unit. Clare said:

“Whilst I acknowledge that there are good services out there, with fantastic midwives, health visitors, GPs, peer supporters and counsellors, I am angry that there are women and families in Scotland who do not have access to this care. Who are simply prescribed medication by their busy GP, and put on a waiting list for CBT. Their relationships can suffer, the mental health of their children, partner and family can suffer, and it’s not the mother’s fault. Or the child’s fault. Or the family’s fault.

It’s the fault of those who make decisions about spending and ring-fencing money for Perinatal Mental Health. That investment would be in the future of everyone: children and families. It would save future expenditure and help families to build relationships and resilience, instead of fire-fighting later on in life.

A Managed Clinical Network has been set up, and is “mapping and gapping” perinatal mental health services in Scotland. The Scottish Government have said that no decision will be made on funding for three years, until after the first phase of this MCN. In these three years, more than one third of families who need help with mental health will not get it.

We have known for a long time where that gaps are in Scotland. This simply isn’t good enough”

Joanne Smith, Everyone’s Business Coordinator (Scotland) said:

“We have particular concerns that women with the most severe difficulties still do not have equitable access to local specialist care when compared with women in England and Wales, this is despite the strength of policy rhetoric from the Scottish Government on the importance of early years, early intervention and prevention.

“The map shows that the Government’s ambition is not being matched by investment on the ground.”

“Investing in perinatal mental health can protect two generations at once; it can protect maternal mental health and improve child development outcomes.”

Investment in perinatal mental health must be prioritised in Government funding commitments, as a matter of urgency, if we are to protect new mums and ensure that all babies in Scotland have the best possible start in life.

Joanne Smith 07873600520

Twitter @MMHAlliance #everyonesbusiness

Notes to editors
About the maps
The maps were created from data collected by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2017, via self-assessment. Each area was rated using criteria from the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ CCQI Standards ( Visit for a breakdown of UK statistics across the UK, background info and tips on how to use the maps as well as a description of what each colour on the map means.

Data from the new maps
Accessibility of specialist perinatal mental health services, rated green on the map, varies widely across the 4 nations:
· In England 51% of areas are green (106 areas)
· In Wales 28% of areas are green (2 areas)
· In Northern Ireland 0 areas are green
· In Scotland 7% of areas are green (1 area)
What are specialist perinatal mental health services?
Women and babies who need specialist community perinatal care must have access to a team consisting of specially trained staff including psychiatrists, mental health nurses, psychologists, social workers, midwives and health visitors. Inpatient mother and baby units where mum and baby are cared for together are essential when a hospital admission is required.
If you have a query about your colour on the map please email

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