RCPCH responds to Scottish Government funding announcement

The Scottish Government has today announced that more than £50 million is to be spent on improving access to mental health services for expectant and new mothers. Officer for Scotland, Professor Steve Turner, responds.

The new money will provide access to treatment for an additional 11,000 women who experience mental health problems during and after their pregnancy. New models of service delivery will be introduced, including specialist care for acute perinatal mental health problems and improved infant mental health services.

Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of women and covers a wide range of conditions. If left untreated, it can have long lasting effects on women and their families.

Responding to the announcement, Professor Steve Turner, Officer for Scotland for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

We know that a mother’s mental health and wellbeing has an impact on all aspects of their children’s health and wellbeing. Becoming a parent can be a trigger to new mental health issues and may make pre-existing mental health problems more troublesome. Unidentified or unsupported mental health problems either before or after birth can harm the baby. For example, depression reduces maternal milk production and this reduce the likelihood of breastfeeding and breastfeeding is known to protect baby from many infections and conditions such as eczema. Maternal mental health issues can also prevent all important mother-child bonding.

That’s why we are pleased to see today’s announcement by the Scottish Government and acknowledge it as a crucial support not only for expectant and new parents, but also for the health of Scotland’s next generation.