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The NHS has announced new plans for an expanded network of NHS units providing specialist support for new and expectant mothers experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses in the area where they live.

Five years ago, two fifths of the country had no access to specialist community perinatal mental health treatment. Now, there are services in every one of the 44 local NHS areas, with plans to develop them further.

The expansion comes alongside the opening of four new mother and baby units, which mean that the most seriously ill women can receive residential care without being separated from their babies in every region.

As part of the new plans, partners of pregnant women and new mothers who are themselves suffering from anxiety, depression or more severe disorders such as psychosis will be automatically offered a comprehensive mental health assessment and sign-posted to professional support if needed.

Studies by mental health charities have found that one in five women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth.

Some common perinatal mental health illnesses include perinatal depression, perinatal anxiety, perinatal OCD, postpartum psychosis and postpartum PTSD.

In April 2018, NICE also updated its guidelines on antenatal and postnatal mental health and clinical management, including advice on how doctors can recognise potential mental health illnesses in new and expectant mothers. You can find their guidelines here.

Pregnancy infographic regarding mental health

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