Released on: 19 March 2021

In response to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance/ Centre for Mental Health Report: ‘Maternal Mental Health during a Pandemic’, Agnes Hann, Research and Evaluation Manager, NCT, said:

We welcome this new report, exploring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of expectant and new mothers and their families. It brings together for the first time all the available evidence.

It is disappointing, but not surprising, to read that overall there has been a significant increase in maternal mental health problems across the UK over the last 12 months. The report reflects the challenges NCT has heard parents are facing, including: anxiety around the virus; the impact of vastly reduced provision in statutory mental health services and community support; the restrictions on partner participation and support during the pregnancy journey; the reduction in informal support from friends and family, especially postnatally; and anxiety around the potential impact on babies and infants.

In particular the report highlights how certain communities, especially Black, Asian or minority ethnic background women and babies and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have been disproportionately affected by the virus and the measures against it, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and inequalities.

It also highlights a need for up-to-date data and further research to understand the pandemic’s ongoing and longer-term impacts, particularly for women and families from disadvantaged backgrounds. And the report calls for more research on the impacts of the shift to digital provision brought about by the pandemic on different communities.

It is essential that the findings and recommendations translate into action to ensure that expectant and new mothers and their families receive the mental health support they need. We strongly support the MMHA’s call for ministers to protect and enhance services supporting perinatal mental health at all levels, including NHS services, Public Health, and voluntary sector provision.

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