Helping and supporting expectant parents and partners with their emotional and mental well-being and supporting their bond with their babies and children.

Why this matters

Up to one in five women will experience a mental health problem in pregnancy, or the first year after birth, with up to three to five per cent experiencing a serious psychiatric disorder. As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the NHS has committed to continued investment in perinatal mental health care for mothers and their partners who need specialist support during and following pregnancy. Up to 18% of fathers experience anxiety and depression in the perinatal period and, where parents are struggling, the impact on infant mental health is significant.

Some women, with pre-existing mental illness or who lost a baby may benefit from pre-conception advice, or a woman may start to feel anxious and depressed during her pregnancy.  If professionals spot the early signs of a perinatal ill-health issue, women can be fully assessed, to ensure any red flags are not missed.

Perinatal mental health issues  can be brought on by many things; such as the experience of a traumatic pregnancy and childbirth, previous loss, history of mental illness or lack of support, and it can sometimes go under the radar because of feelings of shame, embarrassment and fear of the consequences. There is support for all parents from GPs, health visitors and midwives who are specially trained to spot the early signs that extra help is needed, which they can provide or refer on to the perinatal mental health community team, a parent infant mental health specialist or even a psychiatrist.

With the right care at the right time, pregnant women and parents have the best chance of staying well during pregnancy, and afterwards. Research has shown that our earliest relationship with our main caregivers (typically a parent) can have a profound effect on how we develop physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially. This early emotional wellbeing is a key factor in determining resilience, mental health and to what extent individuals will make the most of life’s opportunities, including education, and how they will manage later relationships with partners and their own children.

There are approximately 37,000 births across Greater Manchester with an estimated 4.6% of childbearing women requiring specialist perinatal services. The Long Term Plan aims to extend support to 10% of women by 2022/23.

Our aims

We’re aiming to be a leading region through our delivery of the vision to promote the emotional wellbeing and mental health of pregnant women, parents and all the 37,000 babies born in Greater Manchester every year and their families. We are doing this through building high quality specialist perinatal and parent infant services that work closely with partners, including midwives, health visitors and GPs, to develop their knowledge and skills in promoting wellbeing for all and in the early identification and support for parents and infants with emotional and mental health needs. The four key parts to the Greater Manchester model work together to make this happen:

  1. The Greater Manchester specialist perinatal community mental health teams – specialist service for pregnant women and new mothers who experience significant mental health problems.
  2. Locality parent infant mental health teams – specialist staff who work with mothers and/or their partners and infants
  3. Parent-infant focused IAPT (psychological therapy services) – building knowledge and skills into the full IAPT in every locality to support swift and easy access into therapy for all parents in pregnancy and first two years after birth
  4. Peer to peer support – Peer support is support that is offered from others that have been through similar experiences and it has many benefits in helping those with mild/moderate mental health needs, such as anxiety and depression.

As well as offering direct support to parents, the services work together to raise awareness of the importance of the perinatal mental health, parental mental health and parent infant relationships by offering training, support and consultation to staff working across health and social care, as well as community and voluntary services.

What’s next

  • Development of integrated services in localities where services are well developed
  • Audit of progress towards achieving the Greater Manchester standards for parent-infant mental health services and IAPT across all localities
  • Inclusion of data from all perinatal specialists to capture all activity
  • Increased access to specialist perinatal mental health support in Greater Manchester, in the community or in-patient mother and baby units, allowing at least an additional 1,680 (4.5%) women each year to receive evidence-based treatment, closer to home, when they need it
  • Business case developed to expand the offer to reach 7.1% of women in 2020/21, 8.6% in 2021/22 and 10% in 2022/23

You can find more details about these services in this document Parent Infant Mental Health Services Across Greater Manchester October 2020

Greater Manchester Perinatal & Parent Infant Mental Health Model April 2020

We’ve developed a page for parents and carers with information on services available and how to get support