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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

CR88. Perinatal mental health services. Recommendations for provision of services for childbearing women

Price: £5.00

Approved: Jun 2000

Published: Apr 2001

Status: under review

Number of pages: 32

Review by: 2005

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Psychiatric disorder following childbirth is common, and much of it is serious. Following childbirth, women are at increased risk of suffering from an affective illness, and those with pre-existing psychiatric disorders may face a relapse or recurrence of their condition. Psychiatric illness occurring at this time may have an adverse effect not only on the women herself but on her marriage, family and in particular on the future development of her infant.
Perinatal mental health problems should therefore be of concern not only to those involved in maternal and infant care but also to psychiatric services, as childbearing women will form a significant minority of their patients.
This new Council Report updates and replaces CR28 published by the College in 1992 and a report published in 1996 in conjunction with the Department of Health. The revision takes into account developments in national health policy - including new commissioning arrangements, clinical governance, and the National Service Framework for Mental Heath - as well as the findings of key reports including the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths (1998) ("Why mothers die"), and Fatal Child Abuse and Parental Psychiatric Disorder (1996).
The report recommends that:
  • Every Health Authority should have a Perinatal Mental Health Strategy which aims to provide the knowledge, skills and resources necessary for detection and prompt and effective treatment at all levels of health care provision.
  • Every Health Authority should identify a consultant with a special interest in Perinatal Psychiatry. This consultant should take a lead role in promoting these aims and in establishing a specialist multi-disciplinary team.
  • All women with perinatal psychiatric disorder who require specialist psychiatric care should have access to a consultant and other mental health professionals with a special interest in their condition irrespective of their place of residence.
  • Mother and Baby Units to serve the needs of a number of Health Authorities should be established.


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