Citizen Engagement Team, January 2019
What progress has been made?
This week, the Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee will hear from the Welsh Government’s Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething AM, about what work has been done in response to its inquiry last year into perinatal mental health services.
Perinatal mental health refers to the period from the start of pregnancy to the end of the first year after a baby is born. Perinatal mental health is about the emotional well-being of pregnant women and their children, their partners and families.
The Committee launched its report on the findings of the inquiry during Autumn last year, and promised to follow up on the progress the Welsh Government was making with the proposed changes, one year on.
As part of the Committee’s inquiry, the views of those with first-hand experience of the services offered for perinatal mental health in Wales were sought. Their honest, sometimes difficult, stories contributed to shaping the Committee’s recommendations to the Welsh Government.
What we heard
“We all live in different areas and the ways we had to try and get help were all different..”
In order for the Committee to hear a range of experiences of perinatal mental health issues, 30 people from across Wales participated in an event in Cardiff Bay. Those attending were a mixture of mothers, family members and staff working with those affected. They talked about their experiences – what they felt had worked, what they felt could be improved, and what changes they would like to see made to the support available.
“Consistency of care – a midwife with mental health training. A friendly face.”
The main issues identified included:
- The lack of a Mother and Baby Unit in Wales
- Importance of training for healthcare professionals
- Inconsistencies in community perinatal mental health service provision
- The need to ensure continuity of care
- The need to de-stigmatise and normalise the mother’s experience of perinatal mental health conditions
A short video summarising the issues raised during the event can be seen here:
“The video is beautiful and emotional. Thank you. I’m glad I was able to share my experiences to make a difference.”
The timing of the event, taking place early in the inquiry’s process, meant that Committee members could use the experiences and opinions of attendees to shape the inquiry, and to direct the questions towards issues raised by those with first-hand experience.
“Feeling that you were really listened to by the Assembly Members. It made you feel that what you have been through is important to others, but ultimately it makes you feel that something will change for the good. Exciting to know other people are passionate about the same things.”
The issues raised during the event were used during formal meetings with relevant representative bodies and the Welsh Government, and the experiences of a number of the attendees contributed to the Committee’s report:
Perinatal mental health in Wales (PDF, 4.7 MB)
What did the Committee recommend?
The Committee made a number of recommendations including more investment in specialist community services, the establishment of Mother and Baby Unit provision closer to home for people across Wales, and ensuring timely access to psychological support for pregnant and postnatal women and their partners.
This blog, published by the Assembly’s Research Service, summarises the Committee’s 27 recommendations, 23 of which were accepted, or accepted in principle, by the Welsh Government: Perinatal Mental Health
“This output makes the anxiety of talking out about my experiences worth it. Even if not all recommendations were accepted, this is still more than we had last year or when I was ill.”
Assembly Members also referenced the issues raised by those with first-hand experience during the debate in Plenary on 31 January 2018 which you can watch here:
Plenary debate on Perinatal Mental Health report
What happens now?
In its report, the Committee asked the Welsh Government to provide an update on progress by the end of October 2018. You can see the full update from Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services here.
Those who had been part of the original inquiry were asked to comment on the update to inform the Committee’s meeting with the Minister for Health and Social Services this week (10 January 2019), where he will answer questions on the progress the Government has made.
You can watch this session live on Senedd TV, or catch up later.
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