Women Are Being Denied Access To Perinatal Mental Healthcare

woman at doctors

by Georgia Aspinall |

During and after pregnancy, women are at the most vulnerable stage in their lives for developing a mental health issue. Under extreme physical and mental stress, it is a vital time for women and surrounding friends and family to be aware of possible mental health issues. However, new research has found that women across the UK are being denied access to vital mental healthcare.

According to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), one quarter of pregnant women and new mothers do not have access to specialist support, which can lead to such devastating issues that they can even take their own life. The medical and childbirth campaigner group’s chair, Dr. Alain Gregoire, said ‘the lack of provision of perinatal mental health services in some parts of the UK is scandalous’. He told The Guardian:

‘These services help women who have been left severely disabled, who maybe cannot get out of bed or function normally, or who have been left suicidal, or at extremely high risk of taking their lives, as a result of mental health problems associated with pregnancy and the postnatal period,’

With 20% of women who give birth every year suffering from mental health problems relating to pregnancy or giving birth, according to NHS estimates, the group is warning how vital the services are. He continued, ’we should remember that suicide is a leading cause of death among women who are pregnant or who gave birth in the last year.’

The research, conducted alongside the Royal College of Psychiatrists, found that 62 of the 235 NHS health board or clinical commissioning group areas across the UK offer women zero help from dedicated perinatal personnel. The results of the study show women are again suffering from a postcode lottery when it comes to childbirth related care.

While the number of places offering zero support has decreased from 97 in 2015, the results still aren’t good enough for GP’s. ‘When women are pregnant, or just after birth, they are in the period of life when they are most likely to develop a mental health problem. Working as a GP, I have seen women struggle to find the care that they need, battle with feelings of guilt and search for a sympathetic ear,’ Labour MP and GP Dr. Paul Williams told The Guardian, ‘It is profoundly unfair that some women get excellent care whilst others aren’t even asked how they are feeling by health workers.'

Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, seems to be claiming the increase as a victory, stating that Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, said: ‘As recently as 2014, only 3% of the country had good access to perinatal mental health care, and as the MMHA itself acknowledges, services have since expanded significantly, as part of a £365m package of investment, which helped an additional 6,000 women access care in the past year alone.’

However, the fact that 26% of women still don’t have access to vital care is not good enough. It is hugely unfair that your level of healthcare and support depends on where you live. We can only hope that the new findings encourage greater investment in perinatal care to ensure all women have access to the mental health support they need.

Click through to see a breakdown of natural anti-depressants...

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Discover: Natural Anti Depressants

Natural Anti Depressants
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Omega-3 fatty acids are essential minerals which reduce inflammation and are vital to brain functions such as mood and memory. Your body doesn't produce them naturally so you can only get them in you via food (like fish, nuts and seeds) or dietary supplements.

Natural Anti Depressants
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In addition to bone health, Vitamin D can play a vital role in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression and other mental health problems.

Natural Anti Depressants
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SAMe is a molecule that the body naturally forms and is available as a dietary supplement. In addition to depression and anxiety, it can be used for many other conditions including heart disease, fibromyalgia, tendonitis and many more. It is also recommended for PMS. It works by making sure that chemicals in the body that play a role in pain, depression, liver disease, and other conditions, actually do their job.

Natural Anti Depressants
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Like SAMe, 5-HTP is also a chemical (an essential amino acid) that the body makes naturally. It works by helping to raise the serotonin (the happy hormone) levels in the brain. 5-HTP has been known to have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain.

Natural Anti Depressants
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A study conducted on whether the Rhodiola Rosea (Roseroot) herb was effective for depression showed that it was almost as effective as the popular antidepressant, Sertraline (Zoloft), but with fewer side effects. The herb boasts strengthening the nervous system, fighting depression, enhancing the immune system and memory, elevating stamina, aiding in weight-loss and increasing sexual function.

Natural Anti Depressants
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A lot of adults, especially women, suffer from iron deficiency, and guess what? Iron deficiency symptoms are pretty similar to depression symptoms, i.e. fatigue, irritability, and foggy brain. The recommended daily iron allowance in adults is roughly 8 to 18 mg daily (check with your doctor though because everyone's number is different).

Natural Anti Depressants
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If you don't have enough folate, antidepressants may not work. Some docs prescribe folate along with antidepressants to treat depression and improve the effectiveness the medication. Most adults need at least 0.4mg daily, which you can though food including dark leafy greens, beans and citrus fruit, or as a supplement.

Natural Anti Depressants
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Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins can play a role in producing mood-affecting brain chemicals and low levels of these may be linked to depression. If you have a poor diet and the body can not absorb enough B vits, your mood can be severely affected. Getting a blood test will determine how much of the B goodness you have in your system, and whether you need to stock up. B vitamins are found in animal products like milk, fish, meat and eggs, so if you are a vegan, you should definitely be getting your B's from dietary supplements and vitamins.

Natural Anti Depressants
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Zinc is crucial to our system as it activates our digestive enzymes breaking down food, and helps prevent food allergies, which can avert depression. It also helps our DNA to produce and repair proteins, control inflammation and boost our immune system.

Natural Anti Depressants
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Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which you get through food such as bananas, tamarind, oats, sesame seeds, kiwi and watermelon. Once in the body, it converts to niacin, serotonin and melatonin. Most antidepressants work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain and Tryptophan helps to increase serotonin levels without the extreme side effects of meds.

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St John's Wort has been around for yonks and is one of the most popular natural methods used for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. It's a plant with yellow flowers. There has been some scientific evidence that St. John's wort may be helpful in treating mild depression. It's been claimed that it works just like regular antidepressants in that it inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

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