Perinatal Mental Health


Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) problems can occur during pregnancy and up to one year after birth.  The exact prevalence of PMH illness is unknown but is estimated to affect somewhere between 20% and 40% of new and expectant mums and around 5-15% of dads/partners. Poor mental health in the perinatal period can, if left untreated, cause long-term negative impacts on the whole family.

We know that there are inequalities in who gets treatment by PMH services, with ethnic minority groups and those living in deprived communities less likely to have their mental health illnesses identified, recorded or treated.

Introduction to the Research

The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership Perinatal Mental Health steering group has funded research to identify the reasons for these inequalities in the identification and treatment of perinatal mental health across the different perinatal services in West Yorkshire and Harrogate. This work will enable the PMH steering group to co-produce recommendations and adaptations to systems to address these inequalities and provide the best possible level of care to women, their partners and children. The research team is a collaboration between Born in Bradford, the University of York and the University of Huddersfield. Together this team brings expertise in perinatal mental health, applied health research, systems change, health inequalities and analysis of large data to lead an exciting piece of work to help improve PMH services across the region.

Objectives of the Research

Over one year (July 2020 to June 2021) the research will:

  1. An evidence review from the research literature and from local reports to improve our understanding of academic and local knowledge on health inequalities in PMH care.
  2. Develop system maps of PMH care and pathways in universal, targeted and voluntary services in each area of the region. We will then compare similarities and differences in practice and availability of services across the region.
  3. Identify key components of a Good PMH system. Focus groups with key stakeholders and parents will help us to identify key factors that make a good, equitable service, and factors that stop a service from being equitable.
  4. Identify prevalence of PMH illness, referral and treatment

Where accessible, we will look at data from universal and targeted services across the region to find out how many women and partners have had PMH illnesses identified, captured in the data systems and how many have had a referral and engaged in targeted services. Similarities / differences across services will be explored.

We will pull together all of our findings and work with key stakeholders and parents from across the region to co-produce recommendations to achieve equitable and appropriate PMH care across the region.

Project Team

Lead: Dr Josie Dickerson

Kathryn Willan

Partners at the University of York and The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership