100 signatures reached
To: Minister for Health Robin Swann MLA
Fund Perinatal Mental Health Care for Northern Ireland
Provide effective perinatal mental health care services in Northern Ireland.
Why is this important?
At least 1 in 10 women are impacted by mental health issues in the perinatal period, from pregnancy until their child is 2 years old. Specialist perinatal mental health services are desperately needed, comprising specialist clinical teams in every health trust, community support services, peer support, education and a specialist inpatient mother and baby unit.
Campaigners and perinatal mental health experts have been working together for years calling for these vital services to be put in place but Northern Ireland remains far behind the rest of the UK as the only region with no mother and baby unit and extremely limited specialist service providers. The Health Minister has committed to establish new perinatal services as part of the 2020 Mental Health Action Plan but has not published any details about what will be included and states in the action plan that "[i]t is likely that creating this service will take some time." The Minister has still not agreed to meet the urgent need for a mother and baby unit so that women suffering from acute perinatal mental illness can be treated without being separated from their babies.
Meanwhile, women in Northern Ireland have lost their lives and many more have suffered the consequences of being unable to access services. The devastating impact of covid-19 on women who have been allowed limited support from partners and family during their birthing experience and reduced access to health visiting services at home has made the situation even worse. We urgently need the Minister to fund these services and allow the professionals who are ready to deliver them to get on with this important work. Mums and babies cannot wait any longer.