Mulholland highlights the issues of perinatal mental health during Mental Health Awareness Week

During Mental Health Awareness Week North Antrim MLA and new mother Sian Mulholland MLA is drawing attention to the critical issue of perinatal mental health. 

Mental Health Sian Mulholland

Ms Mulholland said: “Mental Health Awareness Week serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of mental wellbeing, and it is an opportune moment to highlight the unique challenges faced by new mothers. 

“At least one in five women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby. Perinatal mental health issues, which can include depression, anxiety, and in severe cases postpartum psychosis, affect not just the wellbeing of the mother but can also impact the baby's development and their connection.

“It is of great concern that there is still currently no Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Northern Ireland to provide inpatient treatment for women experiencing serious maternal mental health problems. This lack of specialised support is a significant gap in our healthcare system and places undue stress on families during what should be a joyous time.

“Addressing perinatal mental health is not just about providing adequate medical care; it is about ensuring that mothers and their babies here receive the compassionate and comprehensive care and support they need during such a vulnerable time, at the same level as what is available in other regions. The lack of delivery of a MBU in Northern Ireland is a worrying situation that should be urgently addressed.

“This Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to support and empower new mothers and their families by advocating for improved mental health services, ensuring that no mother feels alone in their struggle. It is imperative that we work together to close this critical gap in our healthcare system.”