NHS England have announced plans to open 26 maternal mental health hubs to provide services to new, expectant and bereaved mums. The hubs, due to be opened by next April, will offer physical health checks and psychological therapy in one building. 

These clinics will "integrate maternity, reproductive health and psychological therapy for women experiencing mental health difficulties directly arising from, or related to, the maternity experience," NHS England said.

Home-Start welcomes this important step in recognising the need for more to be done for maternal mental health but believes these new hubs are JUST one part of a range of services that are needed to support the mental health of women and families during the perinatal period. 

There is an urgent need for a sufficiently resourced and skilled community-based practitioner and volunteer workforce who can reach parents who might not otherwise engage, signpost to specialist services, and offer support to parents with less entrenched or urgent needs, freeing up capacity in specialist teams. This is something Home-Start staff and volunteers do on a daily basis.

Home-Start UK Head of Policy, and Child Psychotherapist, Becky Saunders said:

“Home-Start UK welcomes the setting up of the first 10 Maternal Mental Health hubs across England, and the increased provision this will make available to greater numbers of women experiencing mental health difficulties around the birth of a baby and beyond.  Practitioners and volunteers within our services see at first hand the impact poor mental health can have in families at this crucial time". 

"To meet the ambitions set out in the NHS long-term plan, and in light of the anticipated increased need resulting from the pandemic, in the context of already depleted services, we recognise also the journey still to be made to ensure parity of care across all parts of the country, and the need for wider integrated systems of support, including services provided by the voluntary and community sector".

"We are pleased to see the role these hubs will play in training and building capacity within the maternity workforce, and would welcome this being extended to the non-statutory workforce of practitioners and volunteers already working with families in the first 1001 days and providing vital step-up and step-down holistic support”

In 2019-20, more than 30,000 women were seen by specialist perinatal mental health community services. NHS England has made a commitment to offer specialist care to at least 66,000 people with mental health difficulties related to pregnancy, birth or parenthood by 2023-24.  They expect the centres to provide treatment for about 6,000 new parents in the first year.

Claire Murdoch, NHS England's National Mental Health Director, said: "Every woman has a unique experience with pregnancy and motherhood and some will need extra support to cope with mental health issues that can range from anxiety to severe depression.

"I would encourage any mum who needs this support to come forward safe in the knowledge that her mental health and wellbeing are of paramount importance and she should not feel ashamed of accessing the help she needs."

The clinics will also train maternity staff and midwives as well as providing psychological therapies to people during pregnancy and after giving birth.

The first 10 sites will open around England "within months", in:

  • Birmingham & Solihull
  • Leicestershire
  • Northamptonshire
  • Shropshire Telford & Wrekin
  • South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw
  • Lancashire and South Cumbria
  • Hampshire and Isle of Wight
  • Kent and Medway
  • Cornwall
  • Devon

The rest are expected to be up and running by April 2022, with plans for all 44 local NHS areas to have one of these hubs by April 2024.