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4Children calls for an end to the neglect of 35,000 mothers with untreated postnatal depression each year
A report from the national charity, 4Children, says a chronic lack of awareness of the symptoms of postnatal depression is leading to as many as 35,000 women suffering in silence from the condition each year with devastating effects on their families.
New figures, published today, show that a staggering half of women suffering from postnatal depression do not seek any professional treatment. Thousands more are not getting their postnatal depression treated quickly or effectively enough because of serious shortcomings in the system of screening and referral, an over-reliance on the use of antidepressants and because of a sense of stigma attached to admitting to experiencing the symptoms.
The report – the first of three looking at ways of preventing family crisis as part of the charity’s Give Me Strength campaign - highlights the terrible toll that untreated maternal depression has on families leading to relationship difficulties and breakdown, pressure on older siblings to step in to look after babies and children living with the long term consequences of poor early bonding.
The report also reveals that many healthcare professionals – including GPs - need to do more to diagnose postnatal depression early and ensure mothers are being provided with appropriate and timely treatment.
Suffering in silence
New figures in the report reveal a worrying culture of fear and lack of awareness among mothers and their partners, despite 1 in 10 women suffering from the condition. 49% of women who had
Hunger for information
The survey exposes the real lack of information and hunger for knowledge among those suffering with postnatal depression and dissatisfied with their treatment, with:
Shortcomings in the NHS
Despite NICE guidelines for the effective and timely treatment of postnatal depression which stipulates that so-called ‘talking therapy’ should be offered to women with a mild or moderate diagnosis, the report shows that this is not the reality for many women:
Research undertaken for the report reveals a worrying picture of how low postnatal depression is placed on the list of NHS priorities:
Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said:
Postnatal depression is a problem that with the right help, early on, can be treated successfully avoiding long-term impact on the rest of the family. However, many families are suffering the consequences of postnatal depression in silence, and even when they do seek help they all too often encounter a wall of indifference and a lack of empathy from medical professionals with an over reliance on antidepressants for treatment.
“The best ways to treat maternal depression are set out clearly in the NICE guidelines, but all too often there is a shocking lack of awareness. So many women have to rely on luck to come across a sympathetic GP or health visitor who will lead them to the right course of treatment. This report calls for an end to the neglect of this destructive and prevalent illness to ensure that every mother is guaranteed the practical and emotional support she needs to avoid her unnecessary suffering and that of her family.
Anne Longfield will be available for interview at the Conservative Party Conference on Sunday evening and Monday.Case studies are also available for interview: women who can talk about the experience of suffering from postnatal depression and its effect on their families.
For further information and for case studies to interview please contact:
Attila Kulcsar at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7522 6919 / 07917542464
(or Julie Evans on Julie.email@example.com or 020 7522 6928/ 07917870641 )
In the summer of 2011, 4Children commissioned the parenting club, Bounty, to undertake a survey of more than 2,000 mums aimed at gathering new evidence about the prevalence, awareness and experience of postnatal depression. The results showed that half of the women (49%) who had suffered from postnatal depression had not sought professional treatment. Further analysis showed that this average figure disguised a significant variation with first time mums less likely (42%) than ‘multi mums’ (54%) to seek professional help.
With 700,000 births in England and Wales each year[i] and at least 1 in 10 of these likely to suffer from postnatal depression, that is 35,000 mums and their families suffering in silence.
4Children’s report also highlights how the whole family - who with the right help could be offering support to women - are also suffering from this lack of information. The survey shows how difficult postnatal depression can be for male partners who are not given external support:
As a result of the report’s findings, 4Children has proposed a raft of recommendations which would all help to ensure the early detection, treatment and cure of postnatal depression:
Spotting the symptoms
According to the parenting website, Netmums, the following signs can indicate when a woman is suffering from postnatal depression:
On the Netmums website mums can find online information and support pages, links to postnatal depression services where they live as well as the chance to talk to an online parent supporter as well as support from the Netmums community in the dedicated postnatal depression forums in our coffee house.
4Children is the national children and families’ charity which develops, influences and shapes national policy on all aspects of children, young people and families lives and works with a wide range of partners to deliver real support for children and families in their community. It is one of the largest not for profit Children’s Centre providers in the country and currently runs 40 Children’s Centres and 22 Day Nurseries.
For more information visit www.4Children.org.uk.
Give Me Strength
Give Me Strength is a national campaign, run by 4Children, which demands more help for families to avert crisis. 4Children’s research for the campaign showed 91% people were prepared to provide practical or financial help and support to families struggling to cope.
With estimates showing that central and local government spend ten times more on the most disruptive and chaotic families than on the average family, 70% or people felt this was wrong and that more should be spent preventing problems and keeping families together.