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£8billion cost

Failure to fully address mental health problems in pregnancy and following childbirth costs over £8 billion, report finds

Perinatal mental health problems carry a total economic and social long-term cost to society of about £8.1 billion for each one-year cohort of births in the UK, according to a new report ‘The costs of perinatal mental health problems’ released today by the London School of Economics and Centre for Mental Health.

However the report also finds that the NHS would need to spend just £337 million a year to bring perinatal mental health care up to the level recommended in national guidance.

The report is part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s ‘Everyone’s Business’ campaign (, which calls on Governments and local health commissioners to ensure that all women throughout the UK who experience perinatal mental health problems, receive the care they and their families need, wherever and whenever they need it.

Launching officially in Parliament on Tuesday 21st October, the report finds that the costs of mental health problems among women in pregnancy are far greater than previously thought; the cost to the public sector of perinatal mental health problems is five times greater than the cost of providing the services that are needed throughout the United Kingdom.

‘The costs of perinatal mental health problems’ finds that:

• Perinatal depression, anxiety and psychosis together carry a total long-term cost to society of about £8.1 billion for each one-year cohort of births in the UK.

• Nearly three-quarters (72%) of this cost relates to adverse impacts on the child rather than the mother.

• Over a fifth of total costs (£1.7 billion) are borne by the public sector, with the bulk of these falling on the NHS and social services (£1.2 billion).

• Other costs include loss of earnings/impact on someone’s ability to work and quality of life affects.

There is clear guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and other national bodies on the treatment of mental illness during and after pregnancy. Yet the current provision is best described as patchy, with significant variations in coverage around the country:

• About half of all cases of perinatal depression and anxiety go undetected and many of those which are detected fail to receive evidence-based forms of treatment.

• Specialist perinatal mental health services are needed for women with complex or severe conditions, but less than 15% of localities provide these at the full level recommended in national guidance and more than 40% provide no service at all.

Perinatal mental health problems are common and costly. They affect up to 20% of women at some point during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth and are a major public health issue impacting on both women and baby. The good news is that women recover when they get the right treatment. It is vital that all women, wherever they live get the specialist help they need.”
Dr Alain Gregoire, Maternal Mental Health Alliance Chair

Every baby in the UK deserves to have the best possible start in life. Supporting perinatal mental health within a parent infant relationship is critical to lifelong health and happiness for every child.”
Andrea Leadsom MP for South Northamptonshire

Our findings show that mothers’ mental health is vital to the economy and to society as a whole, particularly because of the potential negative impact that untreated maternal mental health problems may have on children. In order to protect the family’s long-term health, intervention needs to start before the child is born, or shortly after because the potential benefits are very high and the costs could be fully recovered in a short time frame
Annette Bauer, LSE’s Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) – lead author of the report

This report shows there can be no more excuses: national and local authorities, commissioners and governments must act now to ensure specialist perinatal mental health services (in line with national guidelines) are available throughout the UK. Only then can we expect to fully reduce any tragically avoidable human and economic costs.”
Emily Slater, Everyone’s Business Campaign Manager

The costs of perinatal mental health problems report is available below:

Embargoed 20th Oct Summary of Economic Report – costs of Perinatal Mental Health problems

Embargoed 20th Oct Final Economic Report – costs of perinatal mental health problems







Shocking gaps in UK maternal mental health services

Shocking gaps in UK maternal mental health services

#everyonesbusiness campaign launched today

Pregnant women and new mothers across almost half of the UK do not have access to specialist perinatal mental health services, potentially leaving them and their babies at risk, according to data to be released today (8 July).1

Maps highlighting the gaps in provision will be published today by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance to mark the launch of its #everyonesbusiness campaign.2 & 3

The Alliance of professional bodies, patient organisations and charities, is warning that women who develop a perinatal mental illness are missing out on essential and potentially lifesaving care.

More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby, and if left untreated these illnesses can have a devastating impact on women and their families. In the most serious cases, perinatal mental illness can be life threatening: suicide is one of the leading causes of death for women during pregnancy and one year after birth.

Perinatal mental health services provide specialist care for women who become ill during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth.

Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, said:

“The figures released today are an embarrassment for the NHS. Pregnancy and the first postnatal year are a critical time, with multiple pressures, demands and responsibilities, when women and their families should receive the best quality care. Specialist perinatal mental health services have the expertise to treat illnesses that particularly affect new mothers, and understand how to minimise the impact of mental illness on the woman’s pregnancy or developing baby. Yet in almost half of the UK women still have no access to community specialist perinatal mental health services.  We would be horrified if there were no maternity hospitals, and general surgeons were doing caesarean sections in large parts of the country.  Equitable access to specialist care for women’s mental health at this time is just as important and the NHS has a responsibility to ensure that this is available.”

The #everyonesbusiness campaign, is calling for the services needed to improve the lives of all women throughout the UK 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 will today host 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 said:

“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.”

  1. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has conducted an audit of specialist perinatal mental health services across the United Kingdom – the campaign’s website features detailed maps of the United Kingdom, illustrating the gaps in these services.
  2. The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is a coalition of over sixty UK professional and patient led organisations committed to improving the mental health and wellbeing of women and their children in pregnancy and the first postnatal year.
  3. The Everyone’s Business Campaign, funded by Comic Relief, calls for:
  • Accountability for perinatal mental health care to be clearly set at a national level and complied with.
  • Community specialist perinatal mental health services meeting national quality standards are available for women in every area of the UK.
  • Training in perinatal mental health is delivered to all professionals involved in the care of women during pregnancy and the first year after birth.

EMBARGOED 8th July – Call to ACT