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by Tom Freeman
20 January 2017
Clinical network established for perinatal mental health

Clinical network established for perinatal mental health

Mum and baby - credit Lucas Torresi

The mental health of new mothers and their children will be the focus of a new managed clinical network in Scotland.

At least twelve per cent of Scottish mothers experience postnatal depression, making it the most common complication of pregnancy.

The new network will bring together leading health professionals in the area to identify gaps in care and improve learning across the NHS.


Event: Maternity and Neonatal Services: Delivering Excellence

Kirsty at six months: Early enquiry

Mental ill-health- From the front line of health challenges

There are at least 21 other national managed clinical networks (MCNs) in Scotland and many other local groups, covering conditions such as brain injury and heart failure, but this will be the first dedicated to mental health.

It follows recommendations by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland following the case of a woman who suffocated her baby while suffering from postnatal depression.

The woman involved admitted the culpable homicide of her nine-month-old daughter in 2015.

The Commission reported services had failed to detect the severity of the condition and made 14 recommendations including establishing a managed clinical network “as a priority”.

Minister for Mental Health Maureen Watt will launch the new network in Aberdeen today.

“We know that perinatal mental health problems do not just affect mothers, they can also have a negative impact on the child. In fact, this can be one of the biggest risk factors that can lead to children having poorer outcomes in later life,” she said.

“Our new mental health strategy will contain a specific focus on allowing children to start their lives with good mental health. This new network will provide a focus for that, enabling us to improve standards for all children and new mothers right across Scotland.”

Dr Roch Cantwell, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland's Faculty of Perinatal Psychiatry, said: “We know there are effective treatments but these are not always available when and where needed.

“This new network is an excellent start to ensuring that every woman in Scotland who requires help with mental health problems, receives prompt effective care from professionals who are skilled to meet her needs.”

The network is expected to be up and running this year. Like other MCNs, its work will be agreed by a steering group through the overarching direction of NHS National Services Scotland which will monitor its activity and effect.

The Scottish Government's review of maternity and neonatal services is due to report soon.


Kirsty, the Holyrood baby, may well benefit from the move, with the Growing Up in Scotland study showing mothers in the lowest income quintile four times as likely to experience repeated mental health problems as the highest quintile. Mum Caley is very likely to experience higher stress levels which have a direct impact on a baby’s development. 

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