birthNew data has revealed that almost half of pregnant women and new mothers do not have access to specialist perinatal mental health services, potentially leaving them and their babies at risk.

Maps highlighting the gaps in provision have been published by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA)to mark the launch of its #everyonesbusiness campaign, which is calling for specialist perinatal mental health services to be made available to all new mothers.

The Alliance is warning that women who develop a perinatal mental illness are missing out on essential and potentially lifesaving care.

Commenting on the campaign, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, Cathy Warwick, said: "We warmly welcome this new powerful coalition of service users and professional organisations. Midwives play a vital role in promoting the emotional wellbeing of women and their babies and in ensuring that all women with a mental illness get appropriate and timely care.

Watch video highlights of Elaine Hanzak's presentation from JFHC Live 2014 on 'Peri-natal & Parental Mental Health':  

"Specialist mental health midwives can provide expert advice to colleagues and to women and their families. This is why the RCM supports the MMHA and the campaign for a specialist mental health midwife in every maternity service in the UK. This is crucial if we are to provide an equal and equitable service and, support and help women and ensure that they receive appropriate, high-quality maternity care."

Vital that women receive the right perinatal care
The #everyonesbusiness campaign is calling for improvements to the services needed by all women who experience perinatal mental health problems, and will provide the key information and tools to support commissioners and service providers to make the necessary improvements.

To mark the launch of the campaign, the Department of Health also hosted a meeting of Ministers responsible for maternity, and care and support services and senior NHS representatives to examine the current situation and plan further action.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter added: "It is vital that women receive the specialist care they need and this campaign is right to highlight the importance of maternal mental health. Healthcare systems across the globe have prioritised physical over mental health in maternity for too long.

"We are making sure that all midwives receive mandatory training in perinatal mental health, so there are specialist staff available in every birthing unit. Readjusting this balance and making fast progress really is Everyone’s Business."

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