A third of women who report mental health concerns after giving birth receive no support or treatment, according to new figures contained in the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit’s 2014 National Maternity Survey, ‘Safely delivered’.

The numbers, which were released on 26 February, are revealed in the responses of over 4,500 women who had given birth over a two week period in 2014. The survey looked at their views and experiences of pre- and postnatal care, and birth itself.

The survey shows that although 90% of women were asked about their mental health from midwives in postnatal visits, a worrying number of women who reported concerns received no support.

Chief executive of Home-Start UK, Rob Parkinson, said “While it is encouraging that there is a growing understanding that good mental health is important for women in pregnancy and after the birth, what is deeply concerning is that of those women who say that they are feeling anxious or depressed, 37% are receiving no support, and 51% are not receiving treatment.”

Rob continued “It is also alarming to read that women from black and minority ethnic groups, older women or women who have previously had children were all less likely to be asked about their mental health after they had given birth. Mental health problems can affect all women, and health specialists should be asking these questions of everyone they support.”

The mental ill-health of any parent can have a serious impact on a child’s day-to-day life and on their long term development. This why, as part of Home-Start’s first national manifesto, the organisation has called for all children living with someone suffering from a mental illness to be supported. This includes the chance for every parent who is at risk of, or suffering from a mental illness to be offered the support of a trained befriending volunteer.

Across the UK, 18,422 Home-Start volunteers support 63,308 children in 29,170 families.

To support Home-Start's work, please make a donation today.