Released on: 11 September 2023

Responding to the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, Angela McConville, Chief Executive at NCT, said: 

“The long overdue National Suicide Prevention Strategy is a step forward in recognising the urgency of tackling maternal suicide, so that it ceases to be the leading cause of death for women during the 12 months after pregnancy in the UK.  

“There are many factors that contribute to poor maternal mental health in pregnancy and postnatally, particularly for those facing multiple disadvantages – which we see exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. It is encouraging to see ambition to grow the mental health workforce, but this will take time to fully implement. We urge the government to take immediate action so that pregnant women and new mothers do not continue to fall through the gaps.  

“Many women who died struggled to engage with healthcare services, highlighting the need for more accessible, community-based mental health support for pregnant women and new mothers. This is evidenced through our national peer support programmes at NCT, that train local volunteers to provide emotional support to women who are experiencing poor mental health during pregnancy or within the first two years after birth.   

“Early intervention is key to delivering this strategy. This plan must do more to invest in specialist mental health training for doctors, midwives and health visitors, who are often the first access point for expectant and new parents struggling with their mental health. Without proper training to identify red flags, more pregnant women and new mothers’ symptoms will go undetected. 

“The government must acknowledge the value of early, easy-to-access, community-based support to prevent further tragic maternal suicides.” 

To read the full strategy, please click here

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