Nearly half of new mothers with mental health problems are not being diagnosed or treated, according to new research.

Out of 1012 women surveyed by NCT, half said they had experienced mental health problems at some time during their pregnancy, or within the first year of motherhood.

The problems included postnatal depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and postpartum psychosis - but 42 per cent of mothers say their conditions were not diagnosed.


Erin Shaw, a mother who experienced undiagnosed postnatal depression for over two years and eventually took an overdose, said: “The doctor didn’t have the time to talk to me properly at my six-week check and my feelings were just dismissed as ‘normal’ for new mums, but they weren't normal.

“No one even mentioned postnatal depression. It was only when I ended up taking an overdose that someone finally listened to me.”


More than a fifth of women who had a six-week check said they were not asked about their emotional wellbeing at all, while 20 per cent said they did not feel able to disclose their issues.

Around 43 per cent of those said it was because their doctor did not seem interested or sympathetic, while a quarter said there wasn’t time.

Almost half were worried that their doctor wouldn’t see them as capable as looking after their baby.

Sarah McMullen, head of knowledge at NCT, said: “It is shocking that so many new mothers aren’t getting the help they need which can have a devastating impact on the women and their families. Some mothers aren’t being open about how they’re feeling as they’re terrified they’re going to have their baby taken away and others are not being asked about their emotional wellbeing at all.

“A third of women said their six-week check was rushed and for some, it lasted only three minutes. Under that sort of time-pressure it’s no wonder that this crucial opportunity to uncover any mental health problems is being missed.”

The charity is now calling for better mental health training for doctors as well as increased funding for the six-week check, so GPs have the time to give every mother a full appointment rather than comibining it with an examination of their baby. The charity is also calling for better maternal mental health training and guidance for doctors so they are better equipped to discuss emotional well being with mothers.



The Telegraph