Today is the long-awaited launch of the London School of Economics and Centre for Mental Health report on The costs of perinatal mental health problems in the UK.

Health Minister Dan Poulter MP speaking at the report launch at the Houses of Parliament

For some time now, we have known that mental health problems during the perinatal period can have a devastating impact on women, babies, fathers and families. Up to 10 % of women will suffer from mental health issues that can occur during pregnancy and in the year after birth.

Now, thanks to this report, there is evidence of the economic costs this has on society. The report was commissioned by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) to support their campaign ‘Everyone’s Business’. Best Beginnings has been an active member of the MMHA since it was formed in 2012.

The report has found that maternal mental health problems carry a total economic cost to society of about £8.1 billion for each one-year birth cohort. Over a fifth of this cost, £1.7 billion, is borne by the by the public sector, with the bulk of this, £1.2 billion, falling on the NHS. £6.4 billion of the costs fall on wider society.

It comes as no suprise that the economic costs are so large however the authors of the report say they are an underestimate as they only calculated the figures for depression, anxiety and psychosis. The authors have calculated that it would only cost an extra £280 million a year to bring services up to the level and standards identified in national guidance.

The MMHA, a coalition of over 60 organisations, is committed to improving maternal mental health issues across the UK and addressing inequities in service provision. The MMHA have found out that less than 15% of localities provide the specialist mental health services for mothers that are recommended in national guidelines, 40% provide no service at all.

This independent report is a widely welcomed addition to the evidence base on maternal mental health in the UK. Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the MMHA, has called on local and national providers, commissioners and governments to act now to begin to reduce the human and economic costs of perinatal mental illness to families, to society, and to nations.

Best Beginnings is supporting the MMHA campaign through our Maternal Mental Health Film Project. We're making a range of films for different audiences and purposes. Over 40 short films will be going into the Baby Buddy app which will educate and empower parents. Six longer documnentary films and a film drama will be going on to a DVD, this is designed to be used by health and social care professionals to open up discussions with parents, it will also be used in training and service development. We are also working closely with our MMHA colleagues to make a film specifically for commissioners and service planners. The film will incorporate the data from the economic report and combine it with the lived experience of mothers who have had mental health problems to present a compelling moral and economic case for change.

If you are a parent who has experienced mental health problems during pregnancy or after the birth of your child and want to help us make these films click here to find out what you can do.

If you are a health or social care professional and want to get involved in shaping the tone and content of the films contact our project lead, David King: [email protected]

Together we can make a difference for future generations.