Northern Ireland 'lacks mental health services for new mothers'

Breedagh Hughes Breedagh Hughes said a national strategy was needed for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is seriously lacking in the provision of mental health services for new mothers, according to research published on Tuesday.

More than one in 10 women develops a mental illness during pregnancy or within a year after giving birth.

Belfast is the only part of Northern Ireland with provision to help them.

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance - a group of professionals and charity organisations - has said that is an embarrassment to the NHS.

Breedagh Hughes of the Royal College of Midwives, which is one of the partners in the Mental Health Alliance, said: "There are women who need a specialist service, both during their pregnancy and, more particularly, after their babies are born and the service does not exist.

"What we're calling for is a national strategy for Northern Ireland which will mean that these women will be provided with a service.

"Currently, only one out of the five trusts in Northern Ireland provides a limited service for women who have pre-existing mental health problems.

"But, actually, there are a lot of women who develop problems for the very first time during or after a pregnancy."

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