Perinatal Mental Health Services Consultation – Scotland

Submission to the consultation on perinatal mental health services.

In 2019, the Perinatal Mental Health Network published an extensive report highlighting the lack of provision for perinatal mental health support across Scotland. Their report 'Delivering Effective Services: Needs Assessment and Service Recommendations for Specialist and Universal Perinatal Mental Health Services', provides a wide-ranging roadmap for improving perinatal mental health services. The Foundation supports its recommendations and wants to see them implemented fully.

The Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic study, led by the Mental Health Foundation and in partnership with Queens University Belfast, the University of Strathclyde, the University of Swansea and Cambridge University, has shown that lone parents were a high-risk group for self-reported emotional and mental distress during the pandemic.

Our survey of people’s mental health and well-being during the coronavirus pandemic was completed by between 1,015 and 2,037 adults in Scotland at various stages during 2020 and into 2021 and has identified that this has had a particularly negative effect on the mental health and wellbeing of women.

In March 2020 we identified that considerably more women than men reported feeling panicked (29% vs 12%), anxious or worried (70% vs 56%) and hopeless (20% vs 10%) as a result of the pandemic. In a further poll of Scottish adults in March 2021, it was identified that women continued to report experiencing the mental health effects of the pandemic more than men, with twice as many women than men feeling panicked (14% vs 7%) and a lot more women continuing to report feeling anxious (51% vs 36%), hopeless (23% vs 18%) and frustrated (52% vs 45%).

Women were also more likely to have concerns about the pandemic exacerbating an existing mental health difficulty (32% vs 27%) and concerns around their ability to get health services (37% vs 27%).

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social restriction measures implemented, parents who lost a baby during this period were also faced with a loss of the usual emotional support that would have been offered by services. This included a loss of direct face-to-face support from clinical services, voluntary sector and peer support services. As we prepare for further potential lockdowns, we must ensure parents exposed to this incredibly distressing experience are still able to receive the emotional support they require.