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Every mother must get the help they need

The report of the analysis of comments left at Lucie Holland’s Change.org petition about the urgent need for better awareness and care for those affected by maternal mental health problems

Research by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), based on a Freedom of Information (FOI) request¹, showed that only 50 out of the 193 responsive NHS trusts in England provide a specialist maternal mental health service to women. It is known that maternal suicide is a leading cause of death in the first year after childbirth and that up to one in five mothers suffer from maternal mental health problems related to their pregnancy. In spite of these facts, more than half of the trusts told the NCT that they do not offer any formal help for issues related to maternal mental health.

Lucie Holland from Surrey (UK) lost her sister in tragic circumstances as a result of a devastating mental illness in 2011. Only 6 months after giving birth to her first son, despite having been under NHS-lead mental health care, Emma took her own life. NHS England has since admitted a legal breach of duty of care for failing to provide timely specialist maternal mental health support.

Marking the third anniversary of this tragic event, Lucie started a Change.org petition urging NHS England to review the current health care provision for people struggling with maternal mental health problems. The aim of this petition was to raise awareness about the threat that maternal mental health problems impose on mothers, their children and their family and to urge the NHS to improve the current offer of maternal mental health provisions across England so no other mother would have to face Emma’s fate. After it opened, the petition was signed 55,169 times and of those who signed 6989 left a personal comment.

The current research has focused on those thousands of comments left by people who were inspired by Lucie’s story and expressed their support for this urgent cause. The RCM commissioned an independent researcher to perform an analysis on this qualitative dataset.