Maternal Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health during the perinatal period

‘Perinatal mental health problems are very common, affecting up to 20% of women at some point during the perinatal period. They are also of major importance as a public health issue, not just because of their adverse impact on the mother but also because they have been shown to compromise the healthy emotional, cognitive and even physical development of the child, with serious long-term consequences.

Maternal depression and anxiety, which often occur together, are at least as common during pregnancy as they are in the year after childbirth. Recent advances in neuroscience and other disciplines clearly suggest that psychological distress during pregnancy is a significant risk factor for a range of adverse outcomes in the child.’
The Costs of Perinatal Mental Health Problems, Centre for Mental Health and London School of Economics, 2014 

The high cost to society

This well-researched report provides the following statistics:

  • Taken together, perinatal depression, anxiety and psychosis carry a total long-term cost to society of about £8.1 billion for each one-year cohort of births in the UK. This is equivalent to a cost of just under £10,000 for every single birth in the country.
  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of this cost relates to adverse impacts on the child rather than the mother.
  • Perinatal mental illnesses are a major public health issue that must be taken seriously. If untreated, these illnesses can have a devastating impact on women and their families. They are one of the leading causes of death for mothers during pregnancy and the year after birth.
  • Between 10 and 20% of women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year
  • The cost to the public sector of perinatal mental health problems is 5 times the cost of improving services.
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