Maternal mental health during a pandemic

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A rapid evidence review of Covid-19's impact

Rachel Papworth, Androulla Harris, Graham Durcan, Jo Wilton and Curtis Sinclair
16 March 2021

The perinatal period is a time of significant risk to women’s mental health, with up to two in ten women suffering some form of mental health difficulty.

From early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, Centre for Mental Health and Maternal Mental Health Alliance were concerned about the likely increased mental health challenges that women in pregnancy and early motherhood were facing as a result of the pandemic and the restrictions introduced to tackle it.

Maternal mental health during a pandemic is a rapid evidence review of the impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of women during pregnancy and after they’ve given birth, and the support that’s been available during the pandemic.

The report finds that women and their families have faced extra pressures on their mental health, including anxiety about giving birth during lockdown or about becoming unwell, fears about losing employment, and increasing levels of domestic violence. It finds that some groups of women face a higher than average risk of poor mental health, including women from racialised communities and women experiencing economic deprivation.

These findings call for the Government to review what is needed to fully support women’s mental health during the perinatal period and to commit to provide this both in the aftermath of the pandemic and in any future crisis situation.

"Our recommendations: 1. Assess levels of need for perinatal mental health support in light of the pandemic 2. Future-proof perinatal mental health services against future pandemics/similar crises. 3. Publish routine data on the mental and physical health of women during the perinatal period. 4. Tackle racial discrimination within health systems and adverse outcomes for people of colour. 5. Recognise the importance of voluntary and community organisations. 6. Support the mental health of all health staff

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