Perinatal Mental Health
Priority AxisTechnological and Social Innovation
Lead partnerThe Health and Europe Centre
Project budget8 537 957 €
ERDF amount5 122 774 €
Across the 2seas area 10-20% of women suffer from Perinatal Mental Illnesses (PMI): mental illness following birth & up to a year after: around 90% of them will not receive the support they need. 1 very common PMI is postnatal depression which has a cost of approx €74K to society related to the impact on both mother & child. The first 3 years of a child’s life are critical for attachment to parents, which lays the foundations for social & emotional development. Without this a child has decreased life chances & does not reach its full academic attainment potential. Currently severe PMI is treated well but the majority is mild to moderate & transitory in nature with no comprehensive, mainstream provision to prepare/support parents. Mums suffer from the fear of their baby being taken away so are reluctant to seek support. PATH addresses the challenge of preventing/supporting PMI providing a modern inclusive health infrastructure to improve perinatal experience & attachment in new families.
PATH will enable women, families & healthcare professionals to prevent, diagnose & successfully manage mild/moderate PMI via radical systemic change, developing an inclusive, holistic health structure: demand driven & co-created with existing patients & expectant/new parents. PATH will prepare parents pre-birth for their new role & help them avoid PMI; currently feelings of being a failure as a parent lead to a reticence in seeking help: 58% of pregnant women/new mothers fear they would be judged. PATH’s multiple entry points including anonymous online services will allow women to access support in a way that best suits them. PATH will also improve the skills of healthcare professionals equipping them to address PMI confidently & effectively. At present 70% in Lille feel they do not have enough knowledge to recognise PMI & 65% of UK midwives do not feel confident in providing satisfactory emotional support during the postnatal period – PATH will address both these issues.
PATH will create:
- a new multi-media international support hub, including gaming/avatars, to help families develop parental awareness & recognise, prevent & overcome PMI. This will benefit all parents in the partner areas, addressing the stereotype of everybody possessing natural parenting skills.
- scientifically evaluated modular prepared parenting & PMI training (building on existing best practice) to increase knowledge & upskill healthcare professionals/employers/parents.
- a multi-media campaign to raise awareness of & destigmatise PMI. This can be suffered by either parent, so raising awareness will also help fathers, recognising & treating symptoms among them early
- community support groups for new families, increasing self-resilience via the wider community & social networks.
PATH will create a new norm of preparing parents & recognising PMI & by providing community care & digital tools in monitoring PMI, send out an early warning message to people & a pathway to help.
Cross border approach
Rates of PMI in all 4 2Seas countries are similar & have remained static for years whilst rates across other parts of Europe are significantly lower. Despite NL providing maternity care (Kraamzorg) for an average of 49 hours after childbirth, rates of PMI are as high as the UK, BE & FR. It is clear that individual countries have not managed to address the issue successfully & a wider approach is needed, learning from initiatives that have taken place & improving on these to provide a better solution. Partners will combine their existing diverse experience & knowledge to address this problem. Within each of the 4 partner countries there is niche expertise, however unless this is combined the PATH results cannot be achieved. Intense cross-border cooperation, taking into account the stature & influence of partner organisations, with co-development & cocreation will provide the critical mass & synergy that is vital for this new inclusive health approach to overcome the problem.