From: Sharon Copsey, NSPCC’s Regional Head of Service in the South West of England
On World Mental Health Day, it is important to recognise that up to 1 in 5 mums and 1 in 10 dads will experience mental health problems during the perinatal period. Mental health difficulties during this time can have a significant impact on day-to-day life, making it difficult for mums and dads to bond with their baby, potentially affecting the child’s overall development.
That is why this World Mental Health Day, the NSPCC is Fighting for a Fair Start for all families.
In England, all families are entitled to five home visits from qualified health professionals before and after birth, to ensure both mum and baby are happy and healthy. These health visitors are uniquely well-placed to recognise signs and symptoms of mental health difficulties in both parents. Even though England already lags behind Wales and Scotland in how many visits parents should receive, the decline in staff numbers and rising family caseloads means local services are struggling, and too many families are not receiving the support they need.
While Government is currently consulting on a new public health strategy and has committed to updating the Healthy Child Programme, families across the country need to see a bold vision for improvement, with the investment in recruitment and training needed to deliver it. This needs to come soon, without it too many families will continue to struggle to access consistent, face-to-face support at the most crucial time of their lives.
For more information on Fight for a Fair Start, which has launched across the UK, visit nspcc.org.uk/fair-start and register your support.