Written by Michelle Bradley
According to a confidential report by MBRRACE, released last December, almost a quarter of new mums who died during pregnancy or with the first year of childbirth, died from mental health related causes (usually suicide, domestic violence or substance misuse). A quarter. The kicker is, these deaths are preventable with the right treatment and early intervention.
If the women who died by suicide became ill in the UK today, 40% would not have access to mental health care. If those women came from Northern Ireland, a staggering 80% would not have access to mental health care. This is simply unacceptable.
The following map, released as part of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance's Everyone's Business Campaign, shows the levels of care available for women suffering with a perinatal mental health illness in Northern Ireland. This is despite the NI Executive agreeing to meet NICE guidelines with regards to provision of this care. We are falling seriously short of the mark with devastating consequences.
Even without taking into consideration the impact that maternal mental illness has on the lives of those affected and their loved ones, the economic impact is enormous. For every annual cohort of births, maternal mental illness that is not quickly and appropriately treated with cost £8bn to the economy, with three quarters of that cost relating to the impact on children. It makes no sense for our government to refuse to increase funding for these vital services when the cost impact of not doing so is blatantly obvious.
In light of these recent reports, the government across the water has increased funding for perinatal mental health services with the aim to halve the number of deaths by 2030. What is Stormont doing?
Its time to put the pressure on our elected representatives to act now and not only improve the lives of those living with mental illness, but to preventthe further unnecessary deaths of our mothers, wives, daughters...
Please help us to get our message across to our local government by signing our petition by clicking here. It will take a moment of your time.