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In 2007, AIMS proposed a checklist of actions1 which we believed were necessary to improve how the maternity service worked with the issue of perinatal mental health. At that time, we said that we had to think outside the box and concentrate on a broad strategy for the future. We noted that the primary prevention of trauma was crucial.
The awareness around the topic of perinatal mental health - as it affects mums, dads, babies and the wider family, not forgetting health care professionals too - has grown tremendously since that first checklist was published. And whilst the taboo around perinatal mental health problems has not yet disappeared, it has certainly been challenged in recent years, with increasing numbers of individuals prepared to tell their story.
There was an important focus on perinatal mental health in Baroness Julia Cumberledge’s Better Births report (2016) and the priority of the issue in the Maternity Transformation Programme has again been confirmed in the NHS Long Term Plan (2019). But there is a huge difference between policy intention and successful policy implementation. The AIMS campaign group have therefore updated our checklist to reflect the views of campaigners seeking to achieve positive change in this area.
As the articles in this issue demonstrate, the research into this subject is growing, and we know much more now than we did in 2007. In that context, we find that too many of the issues on the original AIMS checklist remain both relevant and outstanding. In addition, calls to the AIMS helpline suggest that improvements to the maternity services in this area are still desperately needed.
Over the next few months, AIMS volunteers, as part of the Make Birth Better collaboration, will be discussing how we can all work together to keep a focus on achieving these campaign objectives. Do get in touch if you would like to be part of this work.
IMPROVING MATERNITY SERVICES FOR POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH OUTCOMES: A CHECKLIST FOR ACTION
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