Drop in Mansfield mums seeking help for mental-health problems
Fewer new or expectant mums in Mansfield and Ashfield are suffering from emotional problems than in the rest of the country, figures suggest.
NHS Digital data reveals that the number of open referrals to a perinatal mental-health team in the NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area is down considerably on the previous year.
At the end of January, there were 475 referrals in the area, which includes Mansfield and Ashfield, compared to 620 12 months earlier and 495 at the end of December.
But across England as a whole, the figure was 19,600, up from 17,600 in January 2020 and more than in any month last year.
It is thought that the anomaly might be caused by the fact that all the former CCGs in Nottinghamshire merged last April to form one countywide CCG.
Perinatal mental-health referrals are for women during pregnancy or in the first year after their child is born.
They can be made because the women are experiencing a range of conditions, including emotional issues and post-traumatic stress disorder.
And the increase nationally has been attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, with mums anxious about the virus and also lockdowns, which have left them feeling isolated and restricted.
According to the NHS, perinatal mental illness can affect up to one in five new and expectant mothers.
Sarah McMullen, of the National Childbirth Trust, said: “We’ve heard throughout the pandemic from mums struggling with their emotional wellbeing.
"Anxiety about the virus, reduced services, restrictions on partners attending appointments and less informal support from friends and family have made it a very challenging and isolating time.
"We don’t think new mothers are getting enough support.”
The trust has discovered that a quarter of new mothers are not being asked about their mental health at their routine check-ups with GPs.
It urged GPs to provide more dedicated time, and also called for more investment in maternity services.
In response, the NHS said 26 hubs have been created across the country to bring maternity services and psychological therapy under one roof.
For the government, Nadine Dorries, minister for mental health, said: “Throughout the pandemic, mental health has remained a priority and services, including for perinatal mental-health, which now exist in every area of England, have remained open, adapting to provide digital and remote support.”