Mental healthcare needs being missed in new mothers

OVER 40 per cent of mental health problems among new mothers were not diagnosed by doctors or other health professionals according to research conducted by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).

The survey of 1000 new mothers found that half (50 per cent) experienced mental health problems at some time during pregnancy or within the first year of their child’s birth. These included postnatal depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and postpartum psychosis.

Over a fifth (22 per cent) of women who had the six-week check reported not having been asked about their emotional wellbeing and 20 per cent with an emotional or mental health problem did not feel able to disclose it in the check.

Among women who did not disclose a problem, 43 per cent said their doctor did not seem interested or sympathetic and 24 per cent said there wasn’t time. Nearly half (46 per cent) were worried that health professionals would think they weren’t capable of looking after their baby.

Sarah McMullen, Head of Knowledge, NCT, said: "GPs are under incredible pressure so it’s no wonder that this crucial opportunity to uncover any mental health problems is being missed."

NCT recommends more funding for six-week checks so GPs have the time to give every mother a full appointment, rather than having to squeeze it in with an examination of their baby. The charity is also calling for better maternal mental health training and guidance for doctors so they are more equipped to discuss emotional wellbeing with mothers.

Link: NCT Hidden Half

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