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Less than half of new parents seek help for mental health issues, survey reveals

Healthcare staff need training on how to talk to new parents about their mental health, says RCN

All healthcare staff should know how to talk to new parents about anxiety and depression, says the RCN following a survey on mental health.

The YouGov survey commissioned by the college to mark world maternal mental health day today (Wednesday) spoke to 2,000 mothers and fathers who had their first child within the past five years.

It revealed 820 (41%) experienced anxiety, depression or another mental health issue during or after pregnancy but only 920 (46%) of those considered seeking help from a healthcare professional.

Additionally the survey, carried out in October last year, showed 520 (26%) of those who didn’t seek help explained it was because they were ‘too afraid’.

RCN professional lead for midwifery and women’s health Carmel Bagness, said: ‘All healthcare staff should be aware of the importance of the mental wellbeing of mothers and fathers.

‘Employers should provide training to ensure that every member of staff knows how to talk about these issues with parents, and how to encourage parents to be open about their mental health.

‘Too many women and men are suffering in silence because of outdated stigmas. Too often, attitudes towards mental health are not fit for the 21st century.

‘Today should act as a reminder to parents that help is out there, and healthcare staff are available to discuss any concerns before or after birth.’

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