Armstrong calls for maternal mental health to be prioritised

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has called for maternal mental health to prioritised in Northern Ireland.

Speaking after an event in Belfast to mark the start of Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week 2019, Kellie said her own experience of volunteering with the Remember Our Child charity gave her a knowledge of the issue.

“The lack of a formal maternal mental health strategy and ring-fenced investment means Northern Ireland does not have a specialist mother and baby unit to keep women and their baby together should they have acute mental health needs, particularly at a time they should be supported to bond and breastfeed,” she said.

“We need to invest in training healthcare professionals to both raise their awareness of maternal mental health issues and to ensure they can provide the right help. Effective cross-Departmental working can help fund and deliver preventative programmes. It is vital services are developed with those who have lived experience of these issues.

“Too many women are being failed because our health service is not afforded the time for staff to listen and identify maternal mental ill health. Too many mums are not given access to the right support that could provide proper, effective help at the right time. Support for women and their partners is not being delivered effectively across Northern Ireland.

“Mums and health professionals all agree having no local Government means strategic plans cannot be taken forward, and more women and families are impacted by maternal mental health. Too many issues are sitting not being progressed and much-needed decisions are not being delivered.”