The Wales Perinatal Mental Health Programme (WPNMHP) sets out the actions practitioners will take to ensure that the mental health and wellbeing of women and their partners/families is supported when planning and during a pregnancy, and after birth up until their baby is one year old.
The programme provides an overview and summary of the research and recommendations for change and pathways that are underpinned by a ‘matched’ care and needs-led model, which specifies the anticipated steps from universal, primary, secondary and through to tertiary care.
The pathways will provide guidance to all practitioners who come into contact with a woman and their partner/family who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant or given birth and have a baby under one year old, across all settings.
Historically there had been a lack of integrated and equitable physical and mental health care for women during pregnancy and in the weeks and months following birth, and a lack of specialist perinatal mental health services.
In 2017, the National Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee launched an inquiry into perinatal mental health in Wales, as part of their work on the 'First 1,000 Days' and the association between poor parental mental health and the impact on children’s health and development.
The inquiry focused on the Welsh Government’s approach to perinatal mental health, patterns of inpatient care, level of specialist provision, clinical pathways, integration of perinatal mental health, bonding and attachment and health inequalities.
This inquiry has been a key driver for change in Wales, as it evidenced developments in perinatal provision and set out 27 key recommendations for improving perinatal mental health.
In 2019, the National Clinical Lead for Perinatal Mental Health was appointed and further work to develop a Wales Clinical Network undertaken, with the network being instrumental in driving forward progress in Wales.
These national developments have continued to recognise the prevalence and impact of perinatal mental health problems on women and their families across Wales.