NHS England has revealed that £365 million will be streamed into specialist perinatal mental health services over the next five years to increase access to care and treatment.
As many as one in five women experience mental ill health during pregnancy or in the year after birth, such as depression, anxiety or in some cases post-partum psychosis.
The programme is expected to help an extra 30,000 new or expectant mums who experience serious mental ill health every year, aiming to secure the right care at the right time and eradicate the postcode lottery of service provision across the country.
As a first step, NHS England is launching a £5 million Perinatal Community Services Development Fund to close the gap in the availability of high quality care for women with severe or complex conditions, given that less than 15 percent of areas currently provide services to levels recommended in national guidelines, and more than 40 percent provide no service at all.
"We absolutely need to ensure that all women have the access to high quality perinatal mental health care and are committed to addressing current issues and variation. If left untreated, it can have a devastating impact on the woman affected and her family," noted Giles Berrisford, Associate National Clinical Director for Perinatal Mental Health.
Health leaders can now submit proposals to NHS England that focus on increasing access and improving quality. Local systems will be able to request funding for up to three years, and the total available will rise to £15 million next year and £40 million in 2018.