It's Depression Awareness Week this week. So it's worth remembering that one in six mothers are affected by maternal depression during or after pregnancy.
It’s damaging to them and increasingly the science is telling us it’s bad for their children’s development because mothers who aren’t emotionally available for their babies can’t bond with them.
It’s therefore shocking that so few services are available for women who suffer depression associated with pregnancy, otherwise known as perinatal depression.
As we learn in the edition of our new First Steps in Early Intervention newsletter, women with more severe mental health difficulties are likely to be well-supported by local mental health teams.
But there is a gap for those women with mild to moderate difficulties whose babies will still suffer from the impact of their mother’s depression.
The Government is sponsoring the roll out of Family Nurse Partnership but this is only generally available to younger and first-time mothers and funding will limit its roll-out.
There is a need for a mixture of low cost initiatives which can help tackle depression.
Family Action’s three pilot perinatal projects make use of the skills of volunteer befrienders to reach out to isolated mothers and mothers-to-be and provide a source of non-judgemental emotional and practical support.
If they need a friendly face to attend the children’s centre with, or someone to reassure them with responding to baby, or just some company because relatives or friends live far away our volunteers can help.
The story of how volunteer Jackie helps mothers like Marie in the first steps in early intervention features in our newsletter.
We’re also having some serious evaluation of this project done by Warwick Medical School.
We’ll be sharing our learning from evaluation and practice at our Perinatal conference in July in central London, as well as inviting a range of expert speakers from research, policy practice and commissioning to talk about the future of services to support women at this crucial stage of early intervention. Such services are badly needed.
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