It’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, and to mark the start of it, The Duchess of Cambridge has taken a series of video calls with midwives, health visitors, parents and leading sector experts. On the calls, they discussed the challenges and impact that COVID-19 is having on new and expectant mothers and their families.
Women around the UK have been experiencing an increase in maternal anxiety and isolation as a result of the pandemic, with midwives, doctors, health visitors and clinicians urging mothers and families to ask for help if they need it.
The Duchess joined a call with midwives from Kingston Hospital, where she undertook two days of work experience last year. She heard about the ways in which their NHS Trust are ensuring that women continue to have the best possible support before, during and after birth and spoke with a new mother on the maternity ward about her experience.
Her Royal Highness also held a roundtable call with representatives from the sector, including a range of people who Her Royal Highness has worked closely with over years of long-standing work in this area.
On this call the group discussed key concerns that new and expectant parents had during this time, including apprehension about going into hospital, isolation and reduced support systems. They also discussed a potential silver lining of lockdown being the increased presence of supportive partners, with new families being able to spend more time together with their newborns.
Run by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership and established in 2017, UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week aims to create wider awareness of maternal mental health and signpost support for parents. Typically, more than 1 in 10 women will experience a mental illness during pregnancy or in the first postnatal year, and around 7 in 102 will hide or underplay the severity of their illness.
“As organisations you’re playing such a vital role giving key information. You’re hugely trusted by the public and therefore the information you provide is a lifeline to a lot of people”
– The Duchess of Cambridge