Catherine West MP is one of 60 MPs and Peers calling on the government to take action to help new mums struggling with depression. The cross party group have written to Steve Brine, the minister for public health and primary care, demanding that all mothers in England have an assessment of their emotional and mental health carried out by a GP, practice nurse or health visitor. This separate maternal check would be in addition to the baby’s six week postnatal check. At present, checking the baby’s health is a stipulation under the GPs contract, but doing the same for the mother is not.
Catherine said: “Half of all new mums struggling with depression say they weren’t asked by health staff
about their mental health. At the moment, it isn’t compulsory and many mothers say that a discussion about their emotional and mental wellbeing is either forgotten or is done in a hurry at the end of the baby check appointment.
The evidence suggests that adding this new requirement to the contract would significantly help improve maternal mental health for a very modest investment of around £20m per annum, against a total estimated £8bn in costs stemming from the adverse consequences of perinatal mental illness. It’s by no means the only answer but it would be a good start.
I hope the minister will respond positively.”