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The minister will know that 20 per cent of women are affected by mental health illness during pregnancy or in the 12 months after giving birth. Such illnesses can include anxiety, depression, post-partum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder.
I declare an interest as an expectant father, and I put on record my thanks to organisations such as Dads Rock for providing online antenatal and postnatal workshops for dads.
My partner is part of a new mums network in my constituency, and the feedback from that forum is that there is little or very little mental health support during or after pregnancy. During the pandemic, feelings of anxiety and depression will be magnified substantially, particularly given that some routine scans and appointments are being cancelled. When the current situation ends, I fear that pregnant women and mums will still not get the support that they need.
Does the Minister for Mental Health recognise that that is a problem? If so, what is the Scottish Government doing right now to support the mental health of expectant and new mothers, and what is in place to support them after the lockdown?
I thank Finlay Carson for bringing up an important issue that is extremely close to my heart, given my background of working in perinatal mental health.
Mr Carson might remember that, last year, the First Minister launched a £50 million programme for the improvement of perinatal mental health care right across the country. As part of that investment in perinatal mental health, earlier this week, we announced a fund that Inspiring Scotland is administering for third sector organisations, to ensure that there is support for women and their families across the country.
In addition, maternity units have specialist midwives who work in perinatal mental health, and we have invested heavily in our mother and baby units and perinatal health community schemes across the country, including in Finlay Carson’s region of Dumfries and Galloway.