Duchess of Cambridge visit to SLAM perinatal unit

Press release
24 January 2018

Kensington Palace visits South London perinatal mental health service

24 January 2018: The Duchess of Cambridge has visited the Maurice Wohl, Kings and Bethlem Mother and Baby Unit today to see the work of perinatal psychiatrists looking after new mothers struggling with mental illness.

Kensington Palace said the visits reflect HRH’s interest in continuing to develop an understanding of the challenges and issues surrounding maternal mental health and to learn what support is available.

After a tour of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, the Duchess visited Royal Bethlem hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) where she met Dr Trudi Seneviratne, a perinatal psychiatrist and Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ perinatal faculty.

The MBU in South London offers a space where mothers can be admitted with their baby if their condition is too severe to be treated in the community. Doctors specialising in mental health work to keep mother and child together to allow women to receive the best quality treatment and bond with their baby.

Dr Trudi Seneviratne, consultant perinatal psychiatrist and Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Faculty said:

We are delighted that the Duchess of Cambridge has taken such an interest in maternal mental health and the impact on families.

"The visit by the Duchess to Kings College London and Channi Kumar Mother and Baby Unit, South London and Maudsley demonstrates the recovery that is possible when mothers and their babies can get help from appropriate services and highlights how much progress being made by research into Perinatal Psychiatry.

"Perinatal Psychiatrists in the UK have driven the importance of research and clinical services in this area since the 80s. The spotlight shone by the Duchess of Cambridge and others on perinatal mental health is vital as it highlights to mothers that help is available.”

Doctors specialising in perinatal mental health are key to providing treatment for conditions such as postpartum psychosis and postnatal depression – but 40% of areas currently provide no services. In the last year, the RCPsych has awarded bursaries to 10 consultant psychiatrists to train as perinatal specialists.

An additional 15 consultants have been on specialist training provided by the RCPsych and its four three-day courses have reached 260 further consultants and higher trainees.

It is estimated that postnatal depression affects one in every 10 new mothers while the risk of postpartum psychosis is 1-2 in 1,000 women. Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death.

ENDS

Notes to editors

About the Royal College of Psychiatrists

  1. We are the professional medical body responsible for supporting over 18,000 psychiatrists in the UK and internationally.

  2. We set standards and promote excellence in psychiatry and mental healthcare.

  3. We lead, represent and support psychiatrists nationally and internationally to governments and other agencies.

  4. We aim to improve the outcomes of people with mental illness, and the mental health of individuals, their families and communities. We do this by working with patients, carers and other organisations interested in delivering high quality mental health services.

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