Pregnancy: Depressive Illnesses

Department of Health written question – answered on 8th December 2014.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate his Department has made of the number of cases of perinatal depression which go undiagnosed in each year.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps the NHS is taking to improve the diagnosis and treatment of women suffering from mental health problems during and after pregnancy.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Mandate from the Government to NHS England includes an objective for NHS England to work with partner organisations to reduce the incidence and impact of perinatal mental health problems through earlier diagnosis, and better intervention and support.

The NHS Mandate also includes an objective that every woman has a named midwife who is responsible for ensuring she has personalised care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and during the postnatal period. This will help clinicians to identify perinatal mental health problems as early as possible and to give women the support they need.

Health Education England (HEE) has committed to ensure that we have the right knowledge and training available so that we can be skilled in how we look after women’s mental as well as physical health. The HEE Mandate includes an objective that there will be specialist mental health staff available for every birthing unit by 2017.

The Department has funded the Institute of Health Visitors to train a network of four hundred perinatal mental health visitor champions, and has also introduced three interactive e-learning modules. This new resource will help health visitors in the detection and management of perinatal depression and other maternal mental health conditions.

Data on undiagnosed cases of perinatal depression is not collected centrally.

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