Call for end to mental health postcode lottery

​Tess White, Conservative deputy health and social care spokesperson​Tess White, Conservative deputy health and social care spokesperson
​Tess White, Conservative deputy health and social care spokesperson
Local MSP Tess White has said that Tayside mums should not be denied specialist care for post-pregnancy mental health issues.

Even those women referred for psychiatric assessment may have to wait 10 months for treatment, according to nationwide research.

Information obtained from all of Scotland’s 14 health boards exposes wide differences in the care available in each board and the information collected on referrals and waiting times.

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One in four mothers develop mental health issues as a result of pregnancy or childbirth with common conditions including postnatal depression, anxiety, psychosis and obsessive compulsive disorder.

At least 463 women seeking help for mental health problems triggered by pregnancy or childbirth last year received no treatment after assessment.

Women wait an average of 20 days for an appointment with a specialist in Tayside.

Ms White, Conservative deputy health and social care spokesperson, said that the Scottish Government has cut £30m from mental health budgets prompting more concern for services considered by many experts to be already under-resourced.

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Lesley McArthur, from Broughty Ferry, first suffered postpartum psychosis weeks after the traumatic, premature birth of her daughter in January 2019. She is, along with her sister Margaret Reid who lives near Forfar, now campaigning for better psychiatric care for pregnant women and new mothers.

She said: “Women enduring severe psychiatric trauma linked to pregnancy or childbirth are being failed every day and deserve urgent action. Many are waiting far too long for a first appointment, when the need for support and treatment could not be more urgent. Then when they finally are offered the help they need, it may be hundreds of miles from their home.”

Ms White said: “Massive cuts to the mental health budget have put even more strain on these services. Warm words are not enough. Ministers must act now to deliver the specialist perinatal mental health care that women deserve, wherever they live.”