An increasing number of parents have been reaching out formental healthsupport during lockdown.
The NSPCC – the UK’s leading children’s charity, which prevents abuse and helps those affected to recover – has reported a surge in calls to its helpline from new parents.
The charity states that in the first three weeks of lockdown, its operators saw an increase of 28 per cent in calls regarding parental mental health.
Before the pandemic, up to one in five mothers and one in 10 fathers experienced perinatal mental health problems, the charity said.
To mark Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day, which falls on 6 May, the NSPCC hosted a virtual roundtable with health visitors, as well as a midwife and psychiatrist, and the chairman of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, Dr Alain Gregoire.
During the discussion, the panel said their services have adapted to support parents digitally during the outbreak. However, they shared concerns about the effect the Covid-19 crisis was having on new parents’ mental health and the potential long-term impact on babies’ health and development.
Eileen O’Sullivan, a specialist health visitor in Warwickshire, said: “Supporting mothers digitally can be challenging and there is a concern that some may be suffering in silence, too scared to share how they are really feeling over video.
he NSPCC cited data from the Institute of Health Visiting, which found in some areas of England at least 50 per cent of health visitors, including some from perinatal mental health and parent-infant teams, were redeployed into other health services in the initial period of the lockdown.
As a result of its findings, the NSPCC is urging the government to ensure support is provided to parents as the country comes out of lockdown, and to put together a plan to rebuild health visiting and perinatal services after the crisis.