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Review of the National Childbirth Trust Hidden Half report and GP consultation

Diagnosable mental health problems affect up to 20% of women at some point during pregnancy and/or during the first year after birth. And around half of women experience emotional problems during that time (NCT, 2017). Poor mental health during pregnancy and after birth covers a range of conditions ranging from mild to moderate anxiety and depression to more severe mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis. Left untreated, perinatal mental health problems have serious potential implications and are now the biggest cause of maternal death in this country (Knight et al., 2014).

Research has demonstrated how poor perinatal mental health causes significant distress to mothers and partners, negatively impacting family relationships (Chew-Graham et al., 2008). It can also be doubly damaging: as well as affecting the mother, it may also compromise the cognitive, emotional, social, educational, physical and behavioural development of the child (Khan, 2015).