The NSPCC have launched a new campaign ‘Fight for a Fair Start’, aimed at ensuring there is perinatal mental health support available for every parent who needs it, wherever they live.

Across the UK, mental health problems during pregnancy and after birth are very common, with up to 1 in 5 mums, and 1 in 10 dads likely to be affected. Perinatal mental health problems include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic distress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and postpartum psychosis.

If undetected and unsupported, perinatal mental health problems can have a devastating impact upon mums, dads and their families. They can make it harder for parents to provide the sensitive and responsive care that babies vitally need for healthy social and emotional development.  Perinatal mental health problems can cause isolation, affect self-esteem and negatively impact upon partner and family relationships. Mental health problems are also one of the leading causes of maternal deaths in the UK, often from suicide. We know that a lot of this suffering can be prevented though early identification and specialist treatment. By supporting mums, dads and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems early, we can improve outcomes for children, so they are given the best start in life. That’s why it is so crucial to have the right support in place.

Access to timely emotional and psychological support during pregnancy and after birth is vital, but getting the right support at the right time in Wales isn’t guaranteed. In some places parents get the specialist help they need, in others they don’t. Evidence from NSPCC and partners  ‘From Bumps to Babies’ report published last June, shows that although progress has been made in perinatal mental health provision, it is not enough. In Wales, right now, there are gaps in vital perinatal mental health services and many parents are not receiving the support they need to give their babies the best possible start in life.

The NSPCC’s ‘Fight for a Fair Start’, campaign aims to ensure parents across the UK can access the mental health support they need during pregnancy and after birth, in order to give their baby, the best start in life.

Based on evidence and recommendations from NSPCC’s research, in Wales, the NSPCC are calling for:

  • Dedicated specialist perinatal mental health midwives and health visitors in each health board area, to help identify and support women and their families affected by perinatal mental health problems
  • All women and their families in Wales to be able to access a mother and baby unit that meets national standards, when needed
  • Additional funding to ensure that all women and their families can access high quality specialist perinatal mental health services, wherever they live in Wales

We need your help

We are asking our supporters to write to their local Assembly Members to ask them to write to the Minister for Health and Social Services calling for him to ensure perinatal mental health support that meets national standards is available for every mum, so that every baby and every family gets a fair start. It only takes a couple of clicks to join our Fight for a Fair Start in Wales. Together we can demand that no families are left struggling without support.

Help us spread the word

Please share our campaign with your friends, family or followers. If you aren’t sure what to write, try the below:

We’re supporting @NSPCC’s campaign so all new mums and dads get the mental health support they need at the right time, so their babies have the best start in life. Join us and fight for a #FairStart

Dr. Sarah Witcombe-Hayes is the Senior Policy Researcher for the NSPCC in Wales, and is leading on the Fight for a Fair Start in Wales campaign.