The Maternal Mental Health Alliance's Everyone's Business campaign highlights a shortage of Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) across the country and is calling for improvements in perinatal mental health care.

Maternal Mental Health campaign banner

Pregnant women and new mothers do not have full access to specialist mental health care, with 38% of England, 43% of Scotland, 70% of Wales and 80% of Northern Ireland having no specialist perinatal mental health services at all.

NICE guidelines currently state that specialist mental health care, including MBUs, should be accessible to all women.

More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth. In the most serious cases, perinatal mental illness can be life-threatening with suicide being one of the leading causes of death for women during pregnancy or shortly following childbirth. Specialist mental health services ensure that mother and baby are kept together as part of recovery, leading to better outcomes for women and children.

Professor Ian Jones, Director of the National Centre for Mental Health, Trustee of Action on Postpartum Psychosis and specialist advisor to Bipolar UK said:

"Mental health problems in pregnancy and following childbirth (the postpartum period) are common, and have potentially serious consequences. They can be severe, with serious implications for the woman, her baby and her wider relationships...Not only is suicide a major risk, bit if a woman has an episode of mental illness it can have profound implications for the mother, baby and the whole family."

Read the full report from MBRRACE-UK on improving maternal mental health care in the UK.