Counting the costs
The costs of not treating perinatal mental illnesses effectively are significant, making this lack of support a major public health concern.
Untreated perinatal mental illnesses have a wide range of effects on the mental and physical health of women, their children, partners and significant others.
They are also one of the leading causes of death for women during pregnancy and the year after birth.
The costs of undiagnosed or untreated perinatal mental health problems include:
perinatal mental illness can cause intense, debilitating, isolating and often frightening suffering for women.
damage to families
perinatal mental illness can have a long-term impact on a woman’s self-esteem and relationships with partners and family members.
impact on children
perinatal mental illness can have an adverse impact on the interaction between a mother and her baby, affecting the child’s emotional, social and cognitive development.
death or serious injury
in severe cases, perinatal mental illness can be life-threatening: suicide is one of the leading causes of death for women in the UK during the perinatal period.
the economic cost to society of not effectively treating perinatal mental illness far outweighs the cost of providing appropriate services. A report on this, ‘The Costs of Perinatal Mental Health Problems’ was published (October 2014) by the London School of Economics and the Centre for Mental Health – see Resources.
If perinatal mental health problems were identified and treated quickly and effectively, all of these serious and often life-changing human and economic costs could be avoided.