News

New mothers need better GP support for mental health issues, says charity

A charity has raised fears over the 'devastating impact' of GPs not having enough time to identify new mothers with mental health issues.
mothers

A charity has raised fears over the 'devastating impact' of GPs not identifying new mothers with mental health issues.

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has called on people to sign up to the Hidden Half campaign to demand post-natal checks performed six weeks after birth are made longer.

It comes after an NCT survey of 1,012 women with children up to two years old in March found half of mothers experienced a mental health problem during pregnancy or within a year of childbirth.

The survey found 22% of women were not asked about their emotional well-being, while nearly 20% felt unable to disclose an issue.

Just under one quarter (24%) did not believe there was enough time.

Around 43% of women who did not diclose they had

A charity has raised fears over the 'devastating impact' of GPs not identifying new mothers with mental health issues.

mothers
Many new mothers are not receiving
the help they need. Picture: iStock

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has called on people to sign up to the Hidden Half campaign to demand post-natal checks performed six weeks after birth are made longer.

It comes after an NCT survey of 1,012 women with children up to two years old in March found half of mothers experienced a mental health problem during pregnancy or within a year of childbirth.

The survey found 22% of women were not asked about their emotional well-being, while nearly 20% felt unable to disclose an issue.

Just under one quarter (24%) did not believe there was enough time.

Around 43% of women who did not diclose they had a problem said the doctor 'did not seem interested or sympathetic', while 43% feared being deemed unfit to parent.

Pressure on GPs

NCT head of knowledge Sarah McMullen says she recognises the 'incredible pressure' on GPs but adds: 'It is shocking that so many new mothers aren’t getting the help they need, which can have a devastating impact on the women and their families.'

The Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard agrees short appointments made it 'incredibly hard for GPs', but says if they were made longer, surgery waiting lists would grow.

She says the 5,000 more GPs and £2.4bn extra funding promised in NHS England's GP Forward View should be implemented urgently to address the problem.

Royal College of Midwives director Mary Ross-Davie said ensuring women see the same midwife or small group of midwives would help identify issues and foster a more trusting relationship.

She said it was a critical issue because of the risk of suicide within the first six weeks of motherhood.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs