Mental health risks for new and pregnant mothers during coronavirus

Increase in contacts to the NSPCC Helpline about parental mental health concerns

From the first to the third week of lockdown the number of adults that contacted the NSPCC Helpline about parental mental health increased by just over a quarter (28%)1.

Before the pandemic up to 1 in 5 mums and 1 in 10 dads experienced perinatal mental health problems. But there are concerns that the uncertainty of the coronavirus and social isolation is putting more pressure on parents while reducing their access to support.

We brought together health visitors, a midwife, and a psychiatrist from a specialist perinatal care team for a unique virtual roundtable.

The panel revealed their services have rapidly adapted to support parents digitally, and shared concerns about: 

    • the immediate effect of lockdown on new mother’s mental health
    • potential long-term impact on babies’ health and development.

According to the Institute of Health Visiting, in some areas of England at least 50% of highly skilled health visitors, including some from perinatal mental health and parent-infant teams that would normally support parents and safeguard babies were redeployed into other health services in the initial period of the lockdown.

"This can be such a lonely experience at the best times for a new mum, so it must be incredibly frightening for parents going through it in the midst of this crisis. It can be hard to tell someone you’re struggling which is why it is so important that parents have access to support services. This means vulnerable mothers can be signposted on to the help they will so desperately need."
Natalie, a mother from Nottinghamshire

Our Fight for a Fair Start Campaign is urging the government to think about the support available for parents as we come out of lockdown and to come up with a plan to rebuild health visiting and perinatal services after the crisis, so that all new parents receive the support they need at every stage.

Join our campaign


Andrew Fellowes, Public Affairs Manager at the NSPCC said:
"Families across the UK are facing unprecedented pressure as they attempt to cope with the impact of COVID-19, with pregnant women and new parents having to manage one of life's biggest changes in the middle of a national health crisis."

"At the NSPCC we know that if undetected and untreated, perinatal mental health problems can have a devastating impact on women, partners and babies, both immediately but also long after the COVID-19 situation has passed."

"It is imperative that families continue to have access to services during the lockdown so that mental health problems can be identified and specialist support provided if needed." 

 

Get support if you or someone you know is struggling

We're here to support you, no matter your worry. Call us on 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk or fill in our online form

Some of our services are specially developed to help parents during pregnancy and after birth. Find out more about our working with families services, including how to get in touch with ones in your area.

Jo Malone logoThis campaign has been developed as part of our partnership with Jo Malone London which is focused on supporting parents with their mental health to help develop secure and healthy relationships with their children.

Worried about a child?

Contact our trained helpline counsellors for help, advice and support.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

References

  1. 1. In the week commencing the 23rd March there were 50 contacts about parental or adult mental health. This had increased to 64 contacts for the week commencing the 6th April.