Mental Health Foundation supports new Parliamentary report on perinatal mental health

25 February 2015

“The basis of a child's future emotional well-being begins at conception, £10 spent on providing a child with a sure footing in life saves up to £70 in the costs of care and support in adolescence and adulthood”

A report published today by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Conception to Age Two – The First 1001 Days sets out nine recommendations to ensure that children by the age of two have the “social and emotional resources that form a strong foundation for good citizenship”. In a conclusion shared by the Mental Health Foundation, the report argues that without appropriate intervention there will continue to be a “high transmission of disadvantage, inequality, dysfunction and child maltreatment”.  Getting off to a good start in life is essential for the healthy development of babies, and their future mental health and wellbeing.

Commenting, Jenny Edwards CEO of the Mental Health Foundation said:

“At the Mental Health Foundation we are committed to undertaking research to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. The case for providing parents with appropriate support early in their child's life is self-evident, both in terms of the child's welfare and development but also in terms of the ongoing costs to society. The basis of a child's future emotional well-being begins at conception, £10 spent on providing a child with a sure footing in life saves up to £70 in the costs of mental health care and support in adolescence and adulthood.

“This new research will help us to get the long-term policy change that is so desperately needed, to make sure that prevention is high on the agenda and that mental health is supported right from conception”

The Mental Health Foundation's support for perinatal mental health is based on its own research. Our Early Intervention Project, based in Sutton, reaches expectant mums during their pregnancy. We work with pregnant women to reduce the effects of stress on the development of their unborn child. Once the baby has been born, mothers are offered Video Interaction Guidance, an intervention which encourages caregivers to reflect on how they interact with their baby by showing them video clips of naturally occurring positive bonding moments.

This intervention has been shown to improve communication and attachment between mother and baby, and can help to protect the baby against developing emotional or behavioural problems in later life. Outcomes which have reinforced our view that perinatal support, similar to our Early Intervention Project, should be available universally. To that end, the Mental Health Foundation endorses the cross party All-Party Parliamentary group's call for all of the political parties to prioritise early intervention and support.