NSPCC calls for improved infant mental health services Jul 19 2019 | NSPCC Scotland

Thousands of mums, dads and their babies in Scotland who need treatment for mental health problems are unable to access the specialist care they need because of where they live.

A new NSPCC Scotland campaign, Fight for a Fair Start, is calling for specialist infant mental health services to be available to all babies and families who need them.

Up to one in five mums and up to one in 10 dads experience mental health problems during pregnancy and after birth, but getting the right support at the right time isn’t guaranteed. Even where mums and dads get support for their own mental health, additional support may be required to look after their babies’ developmental needs.

Specialist services which support and build the relationship between parent and baby (known as ‘infant mental health services’) during these early months can make a difference and help prevent future problems.

By the age of three, the development of children who have experienced infant mental health issues can already be up to a year behind that of their peers, but a recent review carried out for the Scottish Government found there is little or no infant mental health support available in most areas of Scotland.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced increased investment to improve perinatal mental health services in Scotland but NSPCC Scotland wants the funding to also be targeted at infants’ support needs.

Launching Fight for a Fair Start today NSPCC Scotland has called for:

  • Specialist infant mental health services to be available to all babies and families who need them
  • Each maternity unit to have access to support from a perinatal mental health midwife
  • Additional Scottish Government investment to be spent on transforming infant mental health services

Matt Forde, national head for NSPCC Scotland said:

“Babies’ healthy development depends entirely upon the relationships around them. Safe and nurturing relationships with their parents or carers can build strong foundations for a young child’s future physical and mental health. Yet, many parents have difficulties in their lives, like their own mental health problems, which can affect their relationship with their new baby.

“Babies have mental health needs, too, and yet there are virtually no services at all in Scotland to help them when issues arise. We want to change this. The Scottish Government and Health Boards must ensure that specialist parent-infant mental health support is available wherever it is needed.”

Fight for a Fair Start has been supported by Jo Malone London who also fund direct services to new and prospective parents, focussing on supporting parents with their mental health problems to help them develop secure and healthy relationships with their children.

To support the campaign to call for more funding for infant mental health please sign our Fight for a Fair Start petition.

For further information visit https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigns/

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