There is a lot of evidence that supports the idea that mothers, and in particular, new mothers, should see a mental health professionals about six weeks after giving birth. It is in this time period that symptoms of issues like postpartum depression will begin to surface. Investors like Ara Chackerian, who is deeply involved in various aspects of the mental health field, are huge proponents of expanding accessibility to mental health services for new mothers and beyond. Access to basic screening and treatment options is part of what drives Ara Chackerian and other US investors, as they look across the pond and see examples of success of preventative measures in other countries.
As Ara Chackerian and others note, public sentiment can make a big difference when it comes to getting the proverbial ball rolling on implementing a new health service. In the United Kingdom, a group of 60 MPs, that cross party lines, recently wrote to Steve Brine, who is the minister for public health and primary care in England. In the letter they demanded that mothers have access and have an assessment of their mental health after giving birth. This would be a mandatory screening that many believe will help reduce any potential damage that birth-induced mental health issues can cause for a woman and her family.
Ara Chackerian and others note that it is incredibly common for women to suffer from some sort of negative mental health issue following the birth of a child. Research indicates that in the UK, about half of all mothers experience some sort of mental distress upon the birth of a child from postpartum depression or psychosis, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
Unfortunately, mental health issues in new mothers are often undetected, which means that they and their families suffer in silence and do not receive the treatment they need. There is much concern for both the wellbeing of the mother, as well as the adverse effects to the child from being in the home with an untreated parent. Making these screenings a mandatory part of the healthcare process will help to reduce the number of undetected and untreated cases of birth-related mental health issues, which will reduce potential suffer for both mother and child.
As Ara Chackerian and others intimately familiar with these types of mental health issues, there are a variety of ways that untreated issues like this can cause issues for a new mother and her child. Firstly, untreated depression, anxiety, or PTSD, puts an incredible amount of negative stress on a new mother who is already experiencing a great deal of stress simply relating to the fact that she just had a child. And when it comes to the children of mothers with mental health issues, untreated birth-related issues can impede on the ability of the mother to properly bond with and provide the proper level of support for their children.
While in the UK, mothers and babies are both supposed to have their health checked at a mandatory six week checkup, too often a mother’s mental health issues go unaddressed and undiagnosed. In a recent survey by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence found that some 42% of mothers surveyed said that their birth-related mental health issues were not picked up on or addressed at this mandatory appointment. There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest ones is that checking a child’s health is a stipulation for any general practitioner, whereas checking the mother is not.
Ara Chackerian and others note that this lack of access to proper treatment is something that really needs to be addressed. Often, many women report that if they did receive any questioning regarding their mental health issues since giving birth, it was as an afterthought to the baby’s appointment. What those writing to Brine are calling for is a separate appointment for the mother, six weeks after giving birth, to assess her emotional and mental wellbeing.
While many women in the UK do have access to this type of treatment and get the mental health assessment they should after giving birth, there are far too many women who fall through the proverbial cracks. There are hopes that if this measure is implemented by the UK government that they can ensure all women universal access to a six-week perinatal mental health check.
This move is widely supported by various activist groups, health organizations, and doctors alike. Opening universal access to a perinatal mental health check to all women six weeks after giving birth will help reduce the suffering of countless women and families. There are a variety of mental health issues that women who have recently given birth can experience from depression to anxiety and even psychosis. Untreated, this makes the life of the new mother unbearably stressful and can even get in the way of the mother properly bonding with her child.