Parents pushing prams

Depression is a major public health concern. Postnatal depression is very common and failure to treat it can have detrimental effects on the relationship between mother and baby and partner.

The September 2017 issue of NCT Perspective outlines the NCT #HiddenHalf campaign, to raise awareness about mums whose mental health conditions often go unnoticed. And we see how NCT is working in partnership with Shift to create new digital support for parents.

The March 2017 issue of Perspective features the approach of Parent-Infant Psychotherapy to build the parent-infant relationship, with a special look at Video Interactive Guidance.

The September 2016 issue of NCT Perspective highlighted the spectrum of mental health conditions that may affect parents, and how practitioners can - and do - give support. The NCT's new Parents in Mind programme aims to provide training and new resources on mental health for volunteer community peer supporters and practitioners. NCT is also actively involved in the development of new local perinatal mental health pathways, while antenatal and postnatal practitioners and breastfeeding counsellors are already supporting parents with perinatal mental health issues. As Helen Hans describes, by introducing parents to Attachment Theory, practitioners can support parents in promoting positive emotional development of babies. New understanding of the range of mental health disorders that can affect women, and research into the diagnosis of mental health problems includes a focus on the often missed problem of anxiety in pregnancy, and new potential forms of intervention including CALM, a group-based approach for pregnant women.

During 2014 NCT undertook two pieces of research to investigate the provision of perinatal mental health services across England and how adequate the six-week postnatal check is for identifying women with mental health issues during the postnatal period. The findings reveal some concerning gaps in services, resulting in many women not receiving much needed specialist antenatal and postnatal mental health care.

In a Spotlight on Research article guest editor Abigail Easter says the focus on improved perinatal mental health provision is crucial for implementation of NICE guidelines.

NCT has published articles and briefings on mental health before, during and after childbirth.

Introducing parents to attachment theory

NCT practitioners: from strength to strength on perinatal mental health

NCT Parents in Mind

Integrating mental health care for mothers in Milton Keynes

Building a perinatal mental health pathway in Bromley

Breastfeeding and mental health

The Acorn study: finding ways of helping with high levels of anxiety in pregnancy

Recognising and acting on perinatal mental health

Broadening the net: assessing the full range of perinatal mental health problems

Dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth

Reflection points on dealing with birth trauma

Talking therapies for mild perinatal anxiety and depression

The maternity needs of women who were sexually abused in childhood

Perinatal mental health: ways to prepare and support parents

Postnatal depression: a glimpse of the shadow side

Perinatal mental health: the picture today

Breastfeeding and depression: the research behind the headlines

Finding support for postnatal depression

Postnatal depression: the impact for women and children

The role fathers play in perinatal mental health

Barriers to identifying and dealing with postnatal depression in fathers

Support provided by postnatal groups

Where to go for help

Experience of postnatal depression

Antenatal and postnatal mental health: an evidence based briefing

Depression before and after childbirth: an evidence-based briefing

NICE guidance

In December 2014 NICE published Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance.  This guideline updates and replaces NICE guideline CG45 (published February 2007) and updates and replaces section 1.5.6 in NICE guideline CG62 (published March 2008)

It offers evidence-based advice on the recognition, assessment, care and treatment of mental health problems in women during pregnancy and the postnatal period (up to 1 year after childbirth), and in women who are planning a pregnancy. New recommendations have been added in all sections except the section on the organisation of services. 


In 2012, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) produced Guideline 127: Management of perinatal mood disorders. This guideline updates SIGN guideline 60 Postnatal depression and puerperal psychosis, to reflect the most recent evidence. The remit was expanded to include mood and anxiety disorders in the antenatal period.